I’ve spent some time outlining my plot lines for my “Chicago” novel (it still has no title) these past few days, and I’d like to pass on some of the best plotting advice I’ve read so far, courtesy of K.M. Weiland:
Seems simple, right? But when telling a story, to quote the King of Hearts, we “begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Outlining backwards, however, forces the characters’ external goals into the forefront. Does the character get what he or she wants? Once I answer that question (yes, no, or sort of), I am finding that can plot the events leading up to the story’s ending in light of that achievement or failure, all the way back to the inciting incident and first turning point (i.e. establishing the goal) in the beginning, with greater ease and rapidity.
The question I ask when plotting changes from, “What happens next?” to “What led to this?” or “How did we get here?” It’s a subtle shift that forces me to analyze the cause-and-effect pattern of my story while sparking the creative juices.
And it works!
Outlining backwards: saving my novel, one plot line at a time.
p.s. I’m giving Weiland’s book the thumbs-up out of the goodness of my heart.
No ducats to be gleaned from this review.