Writing tips: Outlining your narrative

The story of The Barrier Scroll is something that has been with me for a long time, but I’ve never truly fleshed out the details. When you start to think about story structure and character motivations, it can be daunting, intimidating even to outline your narrative.

There are countless resources to plot your story but the one that resonated with me the most was a rendition of Blake Snyder‘s storytelling structure, Save the Cat!, called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. This story structure, used on countless popular movies and novels, outlines essential plot points, or beats. When you struggle with structure like I do, this is immensely helpful. To visualize this, here’s Savannah Gilbo’s graphic to get us oriented:

It can be helpful to think about a comic thematically.

I wont go in depth as to what exactly Save the Cat! story structure is, but I do want to stress the importance of structure overall. Structure helps you space out the major events of your story in a way that keeps your reader engaged, without overwhelming them. How do the character’s goals, motivations, and internal conflicts propel the story forward? And why should the audience care?

John Truby, screenwriter, director, and author of The Anatomy of Story says: “Without good structure a story will not work, no matter how good the writing.” I don’t recommend sitting down to write a story from beginning to end and expect it to all make sense when you come out the other end. For most people, to get the best result, you need to apply the craft of story telling and think about what you are doing before you dive in and start writing. Truby says, “Every hour you put into prep work on your story, you save ten when it comes to writing, and rewriting, it…writer’s block is almost always caused by not knowing where the story is going.”

Write down all your ideas, no matter what, and no matter where you are.

Stories, at their deepest level, explore the human spirit and communicate that truth. Find a structure that works for you, so that your narrative has meaning, and connects with readers.

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Thank you for the support. ♡

2 thoughts on “Writing tips: Outlining your narrative

  1. Am always amazed by how plotters structure their work. I’ve tried both pantsing and outlining before, and I always come back to pantsing. Maybe that’s my method of outlining, lol. Thanks for this post, btw!

    1. I’ve found that regardless if you’re a pantser or a plotter, the structure does seem to find it’s way in somehow doesn’t it! The creative process is a very mysterious thing that always amazes me! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with all your writing endeavors!

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