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Old 11-19-2003, 10:53 PM   #37
James D Macdonald
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Outline

My outlines aren't submission-quality prose (though some bits do make it all the way through without change).

They most closely resemble a guy telling his buddy about a neat movie he saw the night before -- bits of memorable dialog, descriptions, but most important the order of the scenes.

Often at this stage I have nonce-names for characters (sometimes they're named for their function in the story: "Bestpal" or "Cannonfodder"). Sometimes the author is a character: The author looked up from couch where he sat taking notes. "Just keep talking, guys," he said. "I'll fix it in the rewrite."

I see novels as having shape. There has to be a pleasing, balanced shape, with all the parts connected, the corners neat, and overall easy to look at.

Try drawing a picture of your book, showing the flow of scenes and chapters. In a bit I might go into my theory of the novel as architecture.