Welcome to my blog! Please join me as I journey towards finding an agent for my first young adult novel. Between writing, endless snapping of photos, sleep deprivation, taking care of two adorable little girls, and oh yes, the laundry, I'm sure it's going to be a bit crazy on the way to the awaited publication.

I'm open to any tips, critique, or random musings about the things I write or the photos I take, so feel free to email me or comment below.

Monday, January 23, 2012

9 Steps to Plotting Outlines

Is your manuscript full of fluff? Do you have scenes or even chapters that need to be deleted but you just can't bring yourself to do it? Trust me, I've been there. What helps is to cut out the stuff that doesn't belong and just save it into a separate file if you are afraid of deleting it forever. I have quite a rather large "fluff" file that I'm keeping for future reference. (alright, honestly I just can't bring myself to trash 39,000 words!!) But at least the junk is out of my manuscript and who knows, maybe at some point, my fluff file will come in handy.

You all should know by now that I'm an advocate of seeing the "Bigger Picture" and will try various techniques in order to do so. Well here is a really cool way to help you keep your plotting under control and on target. I know I especially need to stay on track because I find myself getting sidetracked on details that do not do anything to further the plot. Ugghh, I hate those darn time wasters!

So anyways, I found the below Plotting Outline table and really thought it worked well for keeping my manuscript in line. I've been trying to find who actually created the original table, but haven't had any luck. I found it featured on QueryTracker.net and it was also first mentioned on the Verla Kay Message Boards. So whoever actually developed the outline, kuddos to you! Awesome info. If anyone knows, please tell me!

Now you can set this up a couple of different ways. You can use index cards (which most likely are not large enough) or use separate pages in a word document and number them 1 thru 9 with the appropriate box title.

Follow each box and type (or hand-write if you must) the answers to the questions in each box. Print the nine pages out and lay them all in order just like the outline below. (And you know, see the bigger picture *wink wink*)

Basically there are 9 steps to plot out your manuscript. As the table says, there is a reason the boxes are touching one another, they interrelate to each other and have corresponding effects.

Pure Brilliance! So what do you think, gonna give it a try? Let me know how it works for you. :)

©Alynza Smith 2011


  1. I don't like to follow steps and formulas. It makes me feel like I'm writing something more artificial. But I'm a strong proponent of every writer doing whatever works best for them.

  2. That's one of the best (or worst) things about writing, there isn't a "one size fits all" type of style. When I first began writing, I didn't have a plan at all and didn't even know where to begin.

    But the more I go back over edits and re-edits, I've noticed some chapters that are lacking. This outline helped me see some areas that don't necessarily need to be taken out (although I've done plenty of that), but just needed to place them at the correct point in the story. Rearrangement of a few chapters can do wonders for a manuscript. It's all about the flow. :)

    I like exploring options and plot scenarios and how they interrelate to each other. Keeps things spicy!

    I'm hoping this outline can help someone else out just as it has for me.

    Thanks for stopping by & happy writing!

  3. Hi Alynza, I'm stopping by from the Writer's Campaign!

    I'm getting ready to start outlining my next two manuscripts, and usually I just brainstorm on a piece of paper, but I might just try this graph out. If anything, it'll challenge me a little bit, and that might just get all the creative juices flowing quickly!

    Can't wait to get to know you better!