How I Outline

Welcome back!

Today I'm going to show you how I outline my novels. I'm a plotter, but to the extreme. I like everything to be written down, outlined, organized, and easily accessible. Last year, I came across a YouTube video by Kat O'Keeffe at Katytastic. In the video, she describes the 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter story structure she uses to outline. If you prefer to use Scrivener to outline, she has another video where she uses the same method, within Scrivener, to outline her novel.

Immediately, I was hooked. This method breaks down your novel into manageable chunks, and makes story outlining a breeze. There are 3 Acts, within each Act are 3 Blocks, and within each Block are 3 Chapters, which results in a 27 Chapter outline. Freaking out yet? Let's break it down further:

outline my novel.jpg
  • Act One:

    • Block One:

      • Intro: Introduce Hero and ordinary world.

      • Inciting Incident: A problem disrupts the Hero's life that will kick off the rest of the story.

      • Immediate Reaction: The Hero deals with the inciting incident and/or the changes that result from the inciting incident.

    • Block Two:

      • Reaction: Long-term reaction. The reader begins to understand just how the inciting incident will affect the Hero's life.

      • Action: The Hero decides to act and makes a decision that will impact the rest of the story.

      • Consequence: The result of the decision made (see Action).

    • Block Three:

      • Pressure: The Hero begins to feel the pressure of the task before them and is stressed.

      • Pinch: Things get a little more complicated and the Hero wonders if the right decision was made. (see Action) A plot twist happens.

      • Push: The Hero is pushed in a new direction.

  • Act Two:

    • Block Four:

      • New World: The Hero experiences a new world or situation.

      • Fun & Games: The Hero explores and interacts in the new world. This is a good place to build relationships, romantic or otherwise, and develop your character more.

      • Old Contrast: The Hero compares the new world to the old, and is reminded of how much has changed.

    • Block Five:

      • Build Up: This is where you prepare for the major turning point in your story. There is some form of struggle, internal or external, that will motivate your Hero to take matters into their own hands.

      • Midpoint: The Hero encounters something that complicates their plans and motivates them to change the course of events.

      • Reversal: Everything goes to hell.

    • Block Six:

      • Reaction: The Hero reflects upon what has happened in Block Five

      • Action: The Hero takes matters into their own hands and solves or works around the roadblocks that occurred. (See Reversal)

      • Dedication: The Hero is now determined to overcome the overall issue.

  • Act Three:

    • Block Seven:

      • Trials: The Hero finds a solution, but now must overcome doubt, or some other complication.

      • Pinch: Plot Twist! Everything is worse than it was.

      • Darkest Point: Everything seems lost.

    • Block Eight:

      • Power Within: The Hero finds the courage and the strength to carry on.

      • Action: The Hero takes action, and overcomes the plot twist, before taking on the overall issue again.

      • Converge: Everything comes together: the main plot, the subplot(s), the conflict, etc. The big event is imminent.

    • Block Nine:

      • Battle: The Hero fights the villain and/or tackles the overall issue full force.

      • Climax: The Hero either triumphs or succumbs to a fatal flaw.

      • Resolution: Tie up all loose ends. Make sure the Hero has changed in some way.

And we're done! Phew! Now remember, this is just what I use to outline. If this doesn't work for you, it's okay. If it does help you in some way, that's awesome! Let me know if you've used this outlining structure in the past, and whether you liked it or not. Talk to you soon!

Happy Writing!