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Week Eight Writing the Outline Assignment for The Exploratory Writing Workshop
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The Outline

Week Eight Assignments

The Week Eight assignment consists of two parts.  The first part is to write a "Bullet Outline" and the second is to write a first draft in "Screen Play."  Don't worry, I don't expect you to finish the second part in the time left in the workshop.  Think of the second part as homework for after the workshop is completed. It is a step after doing an outline and writing the first prose draft.  At this point, you have six (6) "Prose Vignettes," sketches that contain the thread of the story line and some good development of the central and supporting characters. Now, in the first part, you'll name and write in the empty chapters, using bullets to capture the essential scenes each will contain.  In part 2, writing in Screenplay we're going to ratchet up the operational writing process.  Here is a link to the screenplay, Real Steel by Jeremy Leven.


Up to now we have been writing in "Prose" as one would naturally expect your novel to read.  In others words you have been showing how a chapter is going to sound inside a reader's imagination. Writing in Screenplay you are not writing for a reader but rather for a Director or a Camera crew.  This forces a novelist to be very definitive regarding what a chapter will contain.  It is more a showing of what will happen then a telling.  In a screenplay the camera and audio equipment do the showing.  A reader of a novel and the Director of a movie, see the world through a different lens...  but one thing they share in common is the love for a good story.  For a novelist going from a bare bones outline to a first prose draft, shifting gears into the mindset of a Screenplay writer is a good idea.  It allows the novelist to make sure they plug all the good stuff we have learned in the Workshop into exactly the right places.

*CheckO*   A large part of this workshop focused initially on your novel's first three chapters.

Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the story world.  Once the reader has some idea of what that constitutes, the Central Character (CC) is plunked down in the middle of it.  The reader now gets to see an Initial Snapshot (IS) of the CC paddling around in the milieu of the story world.  This is important because the reader is going to want to see some character changes and the IS shows the CC at the beginning of the novel.  Finally the writer needs to show something exciting happening in order to hook the reader and hold him in the story.

Chapter 2 is where some set up takes place.  Forces are being put in motion that will come to a head next chapter.  The CC is drawn from a placid pool and sucked into a strong current.  A supporting character is introduced and perhaps the antagonist.  Some foreshadowing prepares the reader for the Life Changing Event (LCE) that will come in Chapter 3.  This is a chance to introduce the reader to additional supporting characters and provide some backstory that gives the reader an idea of what happened previously.

Chapter 3 is huge.  This is where the LCE occurs.  Here the CC is swept over the falls into circumstances they never anticipated.  The event itself can be huge or seemingly small in scope.  The operative word is Changing.  The event changes the direction of the CC's life.  It is like fate had a neat little destiny laid out and suddenly something happens to change everything....all bets are off.

*CheckO*   Remaining Chapters

By convention there are three or four crises in a novel.  They are spread across the remaining chapters.  In the workshop we started with a Self Induced Crisis which is one the CC brings upon themselves.  This leads to self recriminations like How could I have been so stupid?  The genesis of these crises happen when the CC decides to change the predestined direction of his or her life; external forces react seeking to return the CC to the box from whence they came.  The consequence is anguish, frustration, and agony as Destiny seeks to establish an alternate equilibrium to the CC's new direction in life.

Here the writer develops the three or four crises which will comprise the linear threads of the novel.    A crisis is something that develops over several chapters and comes to a head like a wave breaking on the beach. Each chapter is initially given a name and then filled in with bullets, a written synopsis and transition into the following one.  No sooner does this happen than the next chapter looms and carries the story further along.  The final crisis is the tsunami, the climax of the novel.

By now you should have named and plugged Chapters 1, 2, 3, 7, 17, and 27 into the outline page.

All this is not locked in stone and the writer has some flexibility in applying the model.  However, if you think back on the good novels you have read they all tended to more or less follow the model introduced in this Workshop.

Let me stress again the components a good chapter contains.  The first exercise in the Workshop was writing a Favorite Author Chapter Template which showed the various components in a good chapter.  The point was that a blend of components should be used, i.e some exposition, backstory, dialog, interior dialog, character development, transitions, foreshadowing, and symbolism to name a few.  Make sure each chapter contains a blend of these components and is not one-dimensional.  For example don't make it all dialog.

In Lesson 8, we take the beginnings of what you have written and plugged in to your outline.  Now  expand it, if you haven't done so already, filling in the empty spaces.  By the end of Lesson 7 we filled in at least six of the chapters and now it is time to make sure we name and fill in the rest.

Name Chapter’s  4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 , 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29  and 30.  Next write bullets for each one showing the bare essentials of each. Make sure you include some key ideas on transition. Look at how each one plugs into the next one in sequence and develop the bullet events each chapter must contain to expand and fill the gaps.

When I do an outline, I'm unable to begin unless I have some sketches (vignettes) done first.  My lament is how can I write an outline if I don't yet have some concrete ideas of what the story is about? After writing the six (6) vignettes you should have enough information to complete a 30 chapter outline. With this outline it is much easier to go on and finish the novel.  It is on a piece of paper or in your computer in bite sized chunks where the thread of the story has been percolating for seven weeks. 

Think of a vignette as the guts of a chapter.  If you can write a vignette, a chapter should be no problem.  These are tactical issues you have already demonstrated proficiency in doing while working Lessons One through Seven.

*CheckO*   Advantages

1. As a student you now have a much clearer sense of how your story will flow than was the case when you started.

If a writer simply starts out pushing the pencil—or pounding the keys—about a third of the way through they may find a big mess on their hands. A protagonist who is a Non-Central Character is one of many problems that can result from not integrating strategic and operational thinking into the novel's developmental process.

2. The operational items (Chapter Flow) are now front-end loaded into the outline and the student has an appreciation for what they are and how they guide the story.  The Strategic considerations involve things like a Dramatic Premise, Life Changing Event, Want Need or Desire, and three crises that build in magnitude and intensity and move the story along.  Show these.

3. These are some of the structural underpinnings that form the framework of a longer and more complex work, into which the tactical parts (vignettes) are integrated.  Once this is in place, you are  ready to take your familiar palate of tactical writing skills and paint the story canvas in manageable strokes with your unique voice and style of writing.

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*Penb*  Week Eight Writing Assignment  *Penb*

*NoteO*  Outline

"The Outline Starting with your beginning outline in lessons 5, 6 and 7 expand the scope empty chapter by empty chapter until you have a fleshed out your thirty chapter outline.  Add the additional ingredients (see below). 

*BulletO*  Post your completed outline "Classroom (Assignment Forum) of EWW as a bitem.

The outline should expand to include the folllowing.

*BulletB*  Objective 31 - Write a synopsis of overall story.
*BulletB*  Objective 32 -  Insert where the dramatic premise and themes are evidenced.           
*BulletB*  Objective33 - Show where devices such as humor, anguish, foreshadowing and repetition are evidenced.
*BulletB*  Objective 34 - Show where the dramatic ingredients are used.
*BulletB*  Objective 35 - For each chapter, write and insert a synopsis of the highlights.

         *BulletB*  Objective 36

                   *Camera*   Image Creation   *Camera*

You can use your search engine on the internet to search for an image.  Use some key words that will show you a variety of images which reflect your basic story premise.  For example, if your story is a fantasy about elves, you could type in Image Fantasy Elves.  You will be given sites with images you can choose from.  Then you can import the ones you like into your computer. 

Please Remember!   *Painting3*   If you use images from the internet, make sure the images are not copyrighted or that you have permission to use them.

Crop them so they are no larger than 400X400 pixels.  Import them into WdC by creating an Image Item or if you have access import your image/images into a Photo Album.  This will give you a unique number you can use to put your image on the static item for your story outlines. {image:XXXXXXX} (replace the  X's with your image number) or {photo:XXXXXX} (again replace the  X's with your photo's number).  You can also do the same thing with photos you download from a camera.

Don't spend an exorbitant amount of time searching for an image if you can't find any you really like or identify with, but I would like to see at least one example of the three types of images.  If you have difficulty, send me an e-mail.

*NoteO*  Assignment Forum Comments

Comment in the "Classroom (Assignment Forum) of EWW on at least two of your colleagues' comprehensive posts. Check to make sure all of your fellow writers have received comments.

         Remember  *BookStack3*   Learning from each other is an important aspect of a workshop.

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All aspects of this assignment are due no later than
Thursday, Midnight WDC time.

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Percy Goodfellow - Workshop Instructor
percy goodfellow

*CheckB*   Links to The Exploratory Writing Workshop   *CheckB*

Welcome Letter - "Exploratory Writing Workshop Welcome
Introduction - "Intro - Exploratory Writing Workshop
Assignment Overview - "The Weekly Assignment Overview Page
Assignment Forum - "Classroom (Assignment Forum) of EWW
Dictionary of Writing Terms "Dictionary of Terms

Ms. Katz - Head Administrator
*MailY* Katzendragonz *MailY*

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