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August 1, 2018

Plotting – better known as Writing an Outline.

Ugh! Okay, so this one is really up to the individual writer. Everyone plots differently and I am no exception.

So I’ll just go through what works for me.



BOOM… yes, an idea hits you out of the blue and you just know it’s going to make a great story. Unicorns in a school setting… Oh! I would read it, who wouldn’t want to read it? It’s genius (example only).

So… what happens next.

Write it down…

There is nothing worse than getting that great idea in the middle of the night, or in the shower, or walking to your car and then by the time you decide to get it down… poof! Its gone. Use your phone, or the back of a napkin/receipt, notebook, whatever. But get it down.


So… You’ve got a great idea… Unicorns at school… but what now?


This is different for everyone. But I flesh it out using a ONE PAGE outline… Who/Where/When and What happens. Simple, short, one line notes.

1. Who is the story about. (Betsy the Unicorn, is a foal starting preschool. )

2. What is their life like. (An only child, she is the star in her unicorn family’s world. The Princess so to speak.) What does she want? (She wants to be the most special one ever.)

3. What happens to disrupt their life.  What stops her from getting what she wants? (Betsy finds out she is not special. There are twelve unicorn foals in her class – and each one can do something she can’t.)

4. And then… (Betsy also finds out she is getting a little sister/brother.)

5. And… (Betsy’s mean Auntie is coming to stay.)

6. So then… (Betsy runs away.) Remember something keeps stopping her from getting what she wants…

7. But… (Betsy makes some new friends – Jeremy the Pidgin and Mary the mouse – and discovers that just because you are like everyone else, you are still special. Betsy is reminded that she is now going to be the older sibling, and will need to protect her little sister/brother.)

8. So then… (Betsy returns home with new found strength to find everyone was very worried and that she is still loved.)

9. In the end… (Betsy announces she loves school, that EVERYONE is special and that she can’t wait to be a Big Sister.)


So, that’s a very basic outline. (This will change so I’m not super protective of it being perfect.)

Then I group everything up. The first three plot points will all happen very quickly (space of one chapter).

The rest will make up the body of the story. Each point needs more of a breakdown, adding action, tension, emotional moments… I might use Post It notes or a notebook. You could also do a little interview with each character or write a “life brief” to flesh out more details about each one of your characters.


Then I Write…

After a few chapters, I come back to my outline… am I on track or do I need a new direction…

So far Betsy might have witnessed her parents fighting, experienced a bully at school, made a friend who betrays her… so, will the new sibling idea still work? Yes but the nasty Aunt wont fit anymore… So I re-plot and take her out… and then keep writing.

After a few more chapters, re-plot again if needed.

And so on…


But of course, that just works for me. You might have the perfect plot fully formed, with chapter headings and detailed notes on what happens at every point. You might only have the Idea and not much else. It doesn’t matter. Whatever works for you… Work it.



Using the above outline… Write out a simple plot on one page.

Then do another one, and another.

Now you have three stories plotted… Wow… Go you little writer thing you!


I can’t wait to read them 🙂

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