A Plotting Outline

Getting ready to develop a new story idea? Maybe this will help:

1. What’s the story situation? Is there a problem? Is there conflict? Is there a crisis? If so, terrific! Proceed to Point #2. If not, why not?

2. How does the story situation constitute a change for the protagonist? Something’s got to be different than it was.

3. Who, exactly, is the protagonist? A lot goes into character design, but initially plug in these three key elements: goal, traits, inner flaw.

4. How will the story problem be solved? Think in terms of the situational crisis, the change in circumstances that’s landed on the protagonist, and what the protagonist wants. Then start setting a sequence of smaller objectives that will lead the character to the story’s ending.

5. Who, exactly, is the antagonist? This individual must be directly opposed to whatever the protagonist is after. More importantly, what motivates the antagonist to get–and stay–in the way?

6. Where is this story going? What’s the ending going to be? Who in the cast will be there? What are the stakes? Can I make them stronger?

7. Have I any plot holes? Face ’em and fix ’em!

8. What additional characters do I need?

9. Is my plot too predictable? Can I shift an event later or make it happen sooner? Do I have any twists in mind?

10. Where am I going to set the story? Will the setting be dominant or in the background?

11. What research will I need to do?

12. Is there a market for this kind of idea?

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