Create an Outline

I don’t outline in much detail. I lay out my story in three phases: the beginning, the middle, and the end. I estimate how many chapters are needed in each section; three or four, and include 3-4 facts for each chapter. Generally, I know my chapters are about fifteen pages. The number various according to the complexity of my story.

My introduction phase, chapters one, two, and three introduces the characters: who has a conflict, or problem, around which the story revolves. I call this my foreshadowing phase. It hints on what is to come.

The middle chapters are longer, or there are more of them; perhaps five. The middle gives more detail to what was foreshadowed in the introduction. This section is the guts of the story. If I mention in the introduction that someone from the police department left a message on the answering machine, as I do in my next book Daughters of the West Mesa, I give it more detail in the middle. The middle is longer. Here I write about the extent of the conflict: I elaborate on the who made the telephone call, what they wanted, when they want to meet my main character, where they meet, and add how the conflict/problem evolved to this point. In this section I bring the conflict/problem to it’s peak.

In the last phase I resolve the conflict for the main characters. Each character needs to want something, and this thing comes to completion in the last phase. These chapters are shorter.

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