Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Outlining by Chapter: Francis (Lucy) Drollery

Okay, forget Surfer Dude, I didn't enjoy making it up any more than you enjoyed reading it.

Still, I want to show you one more pre-writing / outlining tool, so rather than go through the exercise of making one up for a bogus story, I'll show you a real one.  This is what I call my "Chapter Outline" for The Case of the Devil's Interval.

Disclaimers for this: a lot of stuff changed between when I started outlining and when I finished revising.  There is no longer a chapter one as indicated in the outline, for instance.  Also, the girl Lucy is now the boy Francis, et cetera.

Still, the outline below should be adequate to show you what I want you to see, which is the following.  Once I have outlined my subplots, I turn those subplots into an outline of the entire book by chapter.  I always have columns headed "Chapter," "Plot" and "Subplots", and the other columns I have are dictated by the story.  If the protagonist needs to solve a mystery, I use a column to keep track of the protagonist's progress.  If suspense or romance are important, I keep track of those elements in a column.

I generally start writing before I have finished the Chapter Outline, and update it as I go along (at least to some extent, especially with larger stories).

Lucy introduces herself and explains who her parents were and that there was to be a party

Lucy Drollery

Lucy recounts the party, ending with her going to sleep on the Heath. 

Edmund Serious puts on a bad table rapping show with his female assistant.  He argues with his assistant, and then goes down to steal and drink wine while she watches the rest of the show. 

A couple leaves early, gauchely.

There is a harp performance by Mr. Nimble, a foreign midget, who is sponsored by the [Baron] Stoat.  The harpist is scheduled to play for the Queen (maybe only hinted at?) “[six] nights hence”, Stoat nervously touches the harp during the performance of a very modal folk piece.

Lucy sneaks out, and goes for a walk on the Heath.  Falls asleep under a bramble.
Edmund Serious is a bad table rapper and a drunk. 

Lucy Drollery is a strong-willed adventurer and proto-feminist.
Edmund Serious



Very Significant Person

Foreign looking midget

Plays a modal piece – “the devil’s interval”
Drawing room party

Table rapping

Lucy “wakes up” dead.  Lucy’s first night as a ghost; she finds her family dead, some of the help dead, accidentally haunts surviving help (she lifts a list of the party guests that the [doorman] was using to check off attendees as they arrived), but Mr. Edmund Serious, and some of the help, survives.  She begins to wonder why and she returns to her body.  Passing Edmund Serious drunk on the Heath, she takes a calling card from him.

She is dressed forever in the same clothes.  She can pass through small spaces, is physical but very fine.  She notices heat and cold but feels no discomfort from them.  At daybreak she sinks into the ground where her body lies.
The people of the household that attended the musical show are all dead


(next night)
Lucy reflexively returns to her home, and meets Heaven Bound Bob and Billy the Snake, two young (12? 13?) chimneysweeps, who have dared each other into climbing down the chimney of the haunted house. 

The Pinheads enter, with all their whirling and clicking gear.  The chimney sweeps disappear up the flue.  Lucy narrowly evades the Pinheads by jumping out a window.  She then follows the sweeps to see where they live.

Lucy begins to go to the homes of the other party guests, and finds them dead, if they listened to the music show.

The couple that left early, gauchely, is alive.
Lucy begins to investigate the murders.
Heaven Bound Bob and Billy the Snake

The Pinheads, Eek and Bumbles
She falls slowly and is not hurt.
The guests are dead – those who attended the musical portion
Chimney sweeps

Victorian ghostbusters

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