Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Example Book Outline

There is a very unheated debate over whether to outline a novel before writing
it or not. For me, it is easier if I know where I am going, so I create an
outline. Also, as I noted in a previous post, if you ever need to write a
synopsis, an outline can cut your workload significantly. There are different
ways to do an outline. I find that I describe the current state more than I
describe the action. The action will come as the manuscript begins to take

Below, I have included my outline for For the Love of a Devil. Some of
you may recognize the high level outline as coming from Blake Snyder’s Save
the Cat
. If you haven’t read that book, you really should. The numbers
beside each heading are word count totals. Blake Snyder defines when things
should happen by page count, but novelists tend to think more in terms of word
count. My goal was an 80,000 word novel. I went a little above, so the work
count is a little off, but the intent was that it would tell me when I finished
each section. Notice that the Opening Image is 727 words long, which is about
two and a half pages. One of the good things about his outline is that there
isn’t much room for backstory.

I followed the outline for main points, but I made changes as I went along.
That is part of the process. Things that seemed right when you wrote the
outline aren’t going to work when you get to them in the story. Anyway, I just
wanted to provide this outline for anyone who may be wondering what a completed
outline looks like.


For the Love of a Devil

  • Opening Image (1%:727)

    • Geoff has

      • a wife

        • isn't satisfied

        • is cheating on him

      • unsure future

        • has had problems with wife before

        • wants good things, but will they come

      • reason to question his wife

        • wife cheated but he forgave

        • he doubts she's learned lesson

    • arguments at home

    • wife shows self-centeredness

    • Geoff shows worry

    • Geoff shows doubts

  • Theme Stated (5%:3,636)

    • Is Unconditional love possible?

      • Students discussing a story

      • Student asked is unconditional love possible?

        • What if other person never loved?

        • What if other person is hateful?

  • Setup (1-9%:7,273)

    • Introduce A plot Characters

      • Goeff

      • Heather

      • Jesse

      • Laurel

      • Logan

    • Things that need fixing

      • Shaky marriage

      • stressed over future

      • mother doesn't like Heather

      • wife questions his love

      • wife is a big problem

      • children caught in middle

      • Heather wants Independence

  • Catalyst (11%:8,727)

    • wife leaves Geoff for Stanley

      • Geoff comes home

      • finds kids alone

      • finds a note

  • Debate (11-23%:18,182)

    • should he go after his wife?

    • should he give up and move on?

    • divorce is wrong

    • its okay when there is fornication

    • he loves her, right?

    • maybe he just thinks he does

    • He is to protect her

    • what if she won't allow him to protect her

    • No matter what, the children need a stable family

      • This fact ends debate

      • of course he goes after wife

  • Break into Two (23%:18,182)

    • Geoff finds his wife

    • Geoff begs her to come back

    • wife laughs him off

  • B Story (27%:21,818)

    • Sara Expresses her concerns about love

    • Could Ellen just decide to leave her Dad?

    • Geoff shares why he thinks it is different

      • wife self-centered

      • Ellen and Mark committed

    • Sara expresses dislike for situation

    • Sara wants a car

    • Sara working hard to make money for car

  • Fun and Games (27-50%:40,000)

    • Geoff tries to win wife back

    • Wife somewhat receptive

    • Geoff gives her things

    • Wife accepts

    • Geoff asks her to come back

    • Wife dumps lover and says she'll think about it

    • Geoff starts dating his wife

    • Wife is willing to go

  • Midpoint (50%:40,000)

    • Wife wants to meet and talk

      • Geoff thrilled

      • All seems good

      • False Success

  • Bad Guys Close In (50-68%:54,545)

    • Wife tells Geoff moving in with mother and grandmother

      • mother is a high priced prostitute

      • grandmother runs business

    • Geoff unable to disuade her

    • Geoff tries to see her

    • Not allowed to see her

    • Wife goes to work for a pimp

      • holding something over grandmother

      • Wife is protecting grandmother

      • mother tells Geoff

    • Geoff talks to pimp

      • pimp laughs him off

      • pays pimp to take care of her

  • All is Lost (68%:54,545)

    • Wife becomes a slave

      • Geoff defeated

      • All is Lost

      • What can he do now?

      • Whiff of death

  • Dark Night of the Soul (68-77%:61,818)

    • Geoff returns to pimp

    • Learns that wife not there

      • from another prostitute

      • learns she has been sold

    • Goes to her owner to demand her release

    • Owner has already sold her

    • Is told new owner will kill her if police involved

    • New owner might kill you

  • Break into Three (77%:61,818)

    • Sara shows up with a bunch of cash

    • "Go buy her back."

  • Finale (77-100%:80,000)

    • Sara convinces Geoff to buy back wife

    • Geoff locates owner by talking to former students

      • convicted drug dealer

      • out of parol

    • Geoff estimates the money needed

    • puts together the money

    • shows up at slave auction

    • finds wife in disgusting situation

    • puts up with ridicule and overcomes fears

    • out bids others

    • buys her back

    • takes her home

  • Final Image (100%:80,000)

    • Geoff has

      • a wife

        • sees life with Goeff as ideal

        • is committed to Geoff

      • a sure future

        • knows they will work through problems

        • together they will make good things happen

      • reason to trust his wife

        • wife anxious to return to him

        • knows she has seen the result of her action

    • wife expresses her unworthiness

    • wife expresses her desire to be with him

    • Geoff assures her that she is to be his and none other

    • They look to the future together

  • Main Characters

    • Geoff Mywell

      • Modeled after Hosea

      • School Teacher

      • Teaches English

      • Wears Sweeters

      • Very Reserved

      • Very Easy Going

      • whistles when happy

      • Anniversary: Sept. 12

    • Heather (Diblaim) Mywell

      • Modeled after Gomer

      • Very Attractive

      • Self Centered

      • Inconsiderate

      • Always wants her way

      • loves goofy stuffed gorillas

      • Anniversary: Sept. 12

    • Three Children

      • Jesse

        • age 4 at beginning

        • Birthday in June

      • Laurel

        • age 2 at beginning

        • Birthday in November

      • Logan

        • 7 months at beginning

        • Birthday in March

    • Sara Dawson

      • Sophmore at beginning

      • Senior at end of book

      • Birthday in March

  • Minor Characters

    • Allen

      • Second Lover

      • Middle Class

      • Appearance

        • Eyes close together

        • short nose

        • balding head

        • comb over

        • Mr. Squashed Head

    • Stanley Miller

      • First Lover

      • Wife is Wealthy

    • Mrs. Sheila Miller

      • Owns buildings across from Ellen's Cafe

    • Mark Dawson Sr.

    • Ellen Dawson

    • Regina Diblaim

      • Heather's Grandmother

      • Mother of Heather's Father

      • Scar on Chin

        • Rubs it when she's thinking.

        • Came from a fight with a man.

    • The Raven

      • Now "Ray"

    • Samantha Diblaim

      • Heather's Mother

    • Rachel Dahl

      • Grade School Principal

      • Divorced

    • Star

      • a.k.a Stacy

      • Works for Regina

      • Has sold to her by The Raven

    • Dan

      • Former Student

      • Takes him to find Heather in gutter

    • Jay

      • Heather's last owner

      • Pimp in St. Louis

  • Bit Parts

    • Angelica Long

      • Daughter of Sheila Miller

      • Step-daughter of Stanley Miller

    • Tony Gonzales

      • Owns Mexican restarant

      • Rents from Mrs. Miller

    • Mrs. Gonzales

    • Carla

      • Manager at Ellen's Cafe

    • Jim Cummins

      • Neal's Dad

    • Geoff's Mother

    • Mark Dawson Jr.

    • Kid on a Bicycle

    • Matt Diblaim

      • Heather's Dad

      • Shot by The Raven on release from prison

    • Mr. Phillips

      • High School Principal

      • First name, Charlie

    • Valerie Sands

      • High School Student

      • Long Blond Hair

      • From Michigan

      • Two Year younger than Sara

      • Daugher of Nora

    • Nora Sands

      • Long Blond Hair

      • From Michigan

    • Blake Sands

      • Husband to Sheila

    • Will Sands

      • Brother to Valerie

    • Jenna Beth

      • Star's Daughter

    • Regal

  • Locations

    • Home at Beginning

      • Brown

      • Small porch with posts

      • garage on right

      • no red door

    • School

    • Miller Residence

      • Large

      • Expensive

    • Ellen's Cafe

      • Pastry Shop at front on left

      • Restaraunt to right

      • Upstairs seating added

      • Fancy looking

      • Chandeliers

      • Big windows

      • Next to Hotel Downtown

    • Little House with Red Door

      • Heather stayed here when with Allen

      • 1741 Parkview Avenue

      • white

      • red door

      • Has little Black kid who watches

    • Big white house with red door

      • Five miles out of town

      • Large shade trees

      • Middle of 40 acres

      • tire swing

      • wide porches

      • red door

      • view of farmland

Be sure to check out

Mother Not Wanted Book Cover

Mother Not Wanted


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this.

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this. It's helpful