A New Wrinkle on the Outline

Yesterday, I wrote about a trick I call a beat map (see the entry, “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar.”) It’s a way of taking your first draft, outlining each individual scene and what it accomplishes, to look for the fat or waste in your story, and to gauge the pacing.

I dear friend of mine told me today she aspires to write a Young Adult novel. This is one of the most creative and intelligent women I know, so I’d say there’s better-than-even money she can do it.

She had read this blog and asked if a beat map would work before the first draft. As an outline.

Wow. I never thought of that.

The answer, I suppose, is “yes,” provided that you really know the story in your head. You’d have to know the beginning, the middle and the end. You’d have to know the plot points that get you out of Act I and Act II (the plot point that gets you out of Act III is easy. It usually reads, “The End.”)

You’d have to know your heroine’s journey: how she changes and, equally importantly, how she doesn’t change, over the course of this story.

But if you have all that in your head, then yes: a beat map could serve admirably as a story outline.

It’s nice when this blog has some information that is useful to the reader. But it’s really nice when I learn something from it, too.

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on July 21, 2011, in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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