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Technical question for writers 

Once you have a beat-by-beat outline for a story, what do you do?

I’m gonna spend more time strengthening mine, but is there anything specifically I should be looking for?

(Please boost for exposure if you can’t answer)

:)

Technical question for writers 

@some_qualia @nindokag @vgr @bkam I emailed Warren Ellis on a whim with the same question as above. His response:

“1) no plan survives contact with the enemy

2) William Goldman: "protect the spine of the piece." Details will change and evolve, but make sure the thing you showed up to talk about doesn't get lost.”

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Technical question for writers 

@msweet Sure!

First, what is your genre? Genres have conventions you must abide by and obligatory scenes (even if you are writing literary, you will have a story type). Check to see if you have those scenes especially mapped out. Also, genres tend to dabble in one thematic playground (love, well, love! horror, "what is a fate worse than death?") and so on. At least have the tools to play there.

Technical question for writers 

@msweet I'm gonna assume you have the beats like, inciting incident, midpoint, climax, and maybe a couple pinch points, at least.

I guess pick point of view and then if you wanna outline more, break down where you want some of the early scenes to do. Brush up on the elements of a scene and have at. Just depends on whether you also outline scenes (some people do!) or just dive in. Both are valid.

Technical question for writers 

@some_qualia I’m aware of this stuff but I haven’t explicitly mapped it onto the story. For reference, right now I’ve got 12 chapters with 8 beats each, and each one with the same rotation of POV.

Technical question for writers 

@some_qualia genre wise, the first three-quarters are driven by character relationships, and there’s a culminating event at the end. So, I guess drama.

Technical question for writers 

@msweet What is the main conflict and what are the stakes?

Technical question for writers 

@some_qualia triangular dynamic between two guys and a gal is probably the main conflict. That itself is set in their reaction to an experience of a new institution, and the culminating event is a result both of their dynamic and the cultural reaction to the institution they’re attending.

Stakes are, in the first case, intimacy, and in the latter, life or death I guess.

Technical question for writers 

@some_qualia also, I’m using the word “beat” to describe a section of story that is like 500ish words. That may not correspond to what you think of as a beat.

Technical question for writers 

@msweet I dislike beat-outline fiction writing because it’s grinding labor pipe laying. I think of beats more as a trellis to guide a growing vine structure. You lay it out to get a vague sense of overall arc and avoiding dead ends, internalize it subconsciously, but then write the story in an improv fashion, simulating the action in your mind. You refer to the outline again only if you run into trouble, and it’s okay to skip or add beats by improv

Technical question for writers 

@vgr Interesting. I am aware of the possibility of over-engineering it so I will try to avoid that. I’ll probably go back and reference Impro for some tips about freewheeling it :)

Spent last hour thinking about genre etc and realise that it’s turned out to a story about intimacy. Didn’t see that coming.

Technical question for writers 

@msweet oh this is a great topic. I'm at a similar place in my writing project.

Boring but probably correct advice: stop analyzing, just dive in and write a chapter.

Not necessarily chapter 1, but whichever chapter you're most excited about.

After writing a chapter, come back up for air and consider whether the chapter you wrote suggests ideas that are better than the ones in your outline. If it does, change the outline. If not, do another chapter.

Technical question for writers 

@nindokag did that initially. Got two and a bit in before I realised I was lacking coherence and direction. Zoomed out to outline level to solve that. Thanks to replies here and some more thought have a better grasp. Probably give it another few days before drafting. I haz questions :)

Technical question for writers 

@msweet aha, i see. Sorry, i answered assuming that you were mostly happy with your outline already.

What are the questions that you haz?

Technical question for writers 

@nindokag I am happy with it, but I’m suspicious of my happiness. Main one is, now that I’ve figured out it has courtship front and centre, how much do I want to emphasise that?

And also, how in-their-head intense do I want the narrative to be?

Technical question for writers 

@msweet

Dunno if this helps but my current method for diagnosing coherence and direction in my outline is a spreadsheet. Each row is a scene. The columns are:

Scene (i.e. who/what/where/when)
External conflict
Internal conflict
Sets up
Pays off
Mood
Questions
But/Therefore

"Mood" is what mood I want the reader to feel when reading the scene. "Questions" is what questions i want the reader to be curious about, to tempt them into turning the page.

Technical question for writers 

@nindokag have you been reading the Story Grid? ;)

Technical question for writers 

@msweet I actually never heard of Story Grid before but i just duckduckgo'ed it and it seems like something very similar to what i came up with on my own

now I've got a new podcast to listen to, thank you!

Technical question for writers 

@msweet Excited to see this discussion. I just started writing a novel this week and have no clue what I'm doing 😂

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