Seven Quick Takes: Vlogs About Outlining

I love following vlogs about writing on YouTube. The writing community is just so amazing and supportive. So for today, check out these vlogs that talk about outlining. If you like what you see, subscribe to their channels.

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I mentioned Jenna Moreci before, but she’s seriously one of my favorites. Her vlogs are very honest, encouraging, and easy to understand. Jenna has two vlogs on outlining so far, so I’ll share the first video here:

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Katytastic’s 27 Chapter outline is another favorite of mine because it allows for a long story. It also allows for a consistent chapter length, which is good when writing a first draft. Not to mention all the plot points are basically spelled out. If you’re blocked as to what you think should happen, this outline will help you keep track of where you are in the story and guide you to whatever happens next for your character.

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Shaelin is an author of 8 novels and in the process of getting her Bachelor in Fine Arts. This video really speaks to pantsers because she says that she struggles with giving her plot structure. This particular plot structure is inspired by the “Save the Cat Beat Sheet,” but Shaelin explains those plot points with detail, in a way that’s easy to understand.

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Kristen Martin is someone who identifies as somewhere between a plotter and a pantser, or a “plotser,” as she calls it. If you want an outline that allows you to know the major events and keep things organize, but allows room to expand things, check out this video.

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You might know Brandon Sanderson if you’re a fan of the Mistborn series. He’s one of the most well-renowned fantasy and sci-fi writers. He has tons of videos on YouTube where he teaches writing to a class. Watching one of them is just as good as paying for a writing class. This is one of the many videos he has on outlining and story structure.

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Vivian Reis is a sci-fi writer who believes in plotting out a story. She’s self-published, so if you plan on publishing your novel yourself, check out her channel. This is one of the videos she has on outlining.

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Kim Chance is about to publish her first book, but she’s been vlogging about writing for a while. I love her channel because she’s very friendly and relatable. In this video, Kim explains different types of outlines. Here’s hoping you find the outline that works best for you!

 

So You Think You Can Write-Part 4.3: Michael Hauge’s 6 Stages

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Michael Hauge is a story and script consultant who works in Hollywood. He has his own coaching services to help those who want to break into the industry. For this particular outline, I’m going to be sharing examples from Big Hero 6.

Stage 1:

  • Setup: This establishes a character who has little to no desire to change, even though he’s flawed in some shape or form. Hiro is skilled at making robots, but he wastes his time getting money from illegal robot fights.
  • Opportunity: Hiro’s brother, Tadashi, gives him a tour of his college

Stage 2:

  • New Situation:  Through meeting Tadashi’s friends, Hiro gets a glimpse of what he could do if he went to college with them.
  • Change in Plans: Hiro starts working on a robot that he can present at the tech expo, which will give him the opportunity to go to college with his brother and his friends.

Stage 3:

  • Progress: Hiro makes his presentation at the tech expo. However, just as he gets accepted into Tadashi’s school, the expo building is suddenly on fire. Tadashi goes into rescue his professor and dies in the explosion.
  • Turning Point: The action of the movie begins when Hiro accidentally activates Baymax. He also finds a microbot that is still active, in spite of the fact that his machines were supposedly destroyed in the fire. He realizes that a guy in a mask must’ve stolen his microbots and caused the explosion. Hiro turns Baymax into a combat nurse robot.

Stage 4:

  • Complications and Higher Stakes: This particular plot point allows for multiple scenes. In Big Hero 6, Tadashi searches for the man in the mask. Things get complicated when Tadashi’s friends distract from the mission. However, Hiro gets the idea to turn Tadashi’s friends into a superhero team and search for the man in the mask.
  • Major Setback: Tadashi finds out that the man in the mask is really Tadashi’s professor Callaghan, who refuses to take responsibility for Tadashi’s death. Hiro orders Baymax to kill Callaghan, but things go wrong.

Stage 5:

  • The Final Push: This is when the protagonist uses everything he’s learned to solve the problem once and for all. Thanks to Baymax, Hiro finds a sense of closure over Tadashi’s death. He also learns why Callaghan caused the fire and sole the microbots: to get revenge on Krei for the loss of his daughter.
  • Climax:  The final battle occurs when the Big Hero 6 confront Callaghan as he attempts to get revenge on Krei at a public event. A portal to a different dimension opens and Hiro and Baymax rescue Abigail, but Baymax sacrifices himself to get Hiro and Abigail out of the dimension.

Stage 6:

  • Aftermath: Upon discovering that the chip was in Baymax’s rocket-launched hand, he rebuilds Baymax and continues on his heroic adventures with Tadashi’s friends.

This outline works great when you have a character who has to undergo a change in order to become a better person. If you’re someone who likes a character-driven story, this outline might work out for you.

 

So You Think You Can Write-Part 4.2 Outlining with “Save The Cat”

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The Save the Cat outline comes from a screenwriting book of the same name by Blake Snyder. This outline is more detailed than a mere three-act structure and has room for subplots and more lighthearted moments.  In honor of Mean Girls Day, I will use Mean Girls with this particular outline. Happy October 3rd!

Act 1

  • Opening Image: This is a thematic image that establishes the main character’s “status quo.”  Mean Girls begins with Cady taking pictures with her parents and explaining to the audience that up until she was 16, she was homeschooled while living in Africa with her zoologist parents. Then, to quote the trailer, “it was goodbye Africa and hello, high school.”
  • Theme Stated: The theme of the movie gets presented when Cady learns about her new high school from Cool Loser Janis and “too gay to function” Damian. The theme of Mean Girls is that high school has its own set of social norms and cliques. Two scenes in particular explain the theme: When the Plastics get introduced and when Janice explains all the cafeteria cliques at lunch.
  • Set Up: The “setup” establishes the world that the movie takes place in and introduces all the major characters and motivations. In Mean Girls, Cady becomes friends with the Plastics and gets invited to sit with them for a week. She also gets a crush on Aaron Samuels, the guy who sits in front of her in math class, and gets discouraged from joining the Mathletes from both the Plastics and from Damian.
  • Catalyst: This is the plot point that gets the story moving forward. When Regina kisses Aaron in front of Cady, Cady goes to Janis and Damian. The three of them formulate a plan to humiliate Regina.
  • Debate: In some stories, this would be when the main character might refuse the call to adventure. The initial attempts at sabotage don’t work out and Cady and her friends are at a loss as to what to do. Janis tells Cady to crack Gretchen Weiners.

Act 2

  • Choice Made: When the main character chooses to accept the call to adventure or makes a choice that changes the dynamics of the story. Cady sends a candy cane grams to herself and claims that it came from Regina, but Gretchen doesn’t get any. Gretchen starts spilling secrets about Regina and everything finally comes to a boil when she gets pushed aside for Cady during the Winter Talent Show performance. Cue famous “We should totally just stab Cesar!” speech!
  • B-Story: This is where subplots start playing out. The major subplot in Mean Girls is Cady’s pursuit of Aaron Samuels. She pretends to be bad at math in order to get him to tutor her. Part of this includes getting Aaron to catch Regina cheating on him. Finally, when she kisses Aaron, she tells him about Regina cheating on him with Shane Oman.
  • Fun and Games: All the fun stuff relating to the premise of the story occurs. The protagonist is on his way towards his goal, but things are kept lighthearted. Cady gives Regina Kalteen bars to get her to gain weight. All the while, Cady starts turning into a Plastic. Then the nominees for Spring Fling Queen are announced. Regina is not surprised that she is nominated, but balks at the fact that Cady, Gretchen, Karen, and Janis were nominated. Cady herself is surprised that she is nominated for Spring Fling Queen because she and Damian just nominated Janis as a joke.
  • Midpoint: Things start getting serious as the stakes go up. The midpoint begins when Regina gets kicked out of the Plastics table for wearing sweatpants on a Monday and gets humiliated at lunch. All of a sudden, Cady becomes the new Queen Bee. She invites Aaron and her friends to a party she throws the weekend her parents go out of town. The party turns out to be a “false victory” for Cady because she vomits on Aaron, who tells her that she’s turning into a clone of Regina, and loses her friendship with Janis and Damian.
  • Bad Guys Close In: As the tension of the story builds to a high point, things only get worse. Regina finds out about how Cady has been sabotaging her and gives the burn book to the principal. She puts a page about herself in the book and implies that Cady, Gretchen, and Karen are behind it since they’re not in the book. On top of that, she makes copies of the burn book and scatters the pages throughout the school, causing chaos.
  • All is Lost: This is when the main character thinks he’s down for the count. All the junior girls in North Shore High break out into a giant catfight. Principal Duvall and Ms. Norbury gather all the girls in the gymnasium for trust exercises, getting all the girls to apologize to each other. However, Janis takes advantage of the situation to reveal all the sabotages she and Cady planned. Janis gets praised for taking down Regina while Cady becomes a social pariah after people think she pushed Regina in front of a bus and on top of that, to quote Anya Jenkins from Buffy, she’s flunking math.

Act 3

  • The Plan: To put things in baseball terms, this is the main character’s last chance at bat, standing at the bottom of the ninth with bases loaded and two men out. It’s the protagonist’s last chance to set things right. When the police investigate Ms. Norbury for allegedly selling drugs, Cady takes responsibility for what she wrote in the burn book. She brings flowers to Regina and goes back to being smart in math again. She also joins up with the mathletes to get extra credit.
  • Finale: Cady’s epiphany comes to her during the Mathletes State Championship, when she faces off against an ugly girl from the opposing team for the final round. After realizing that being mean to her opponent wouldn’t help her win the competition, she manages to solve the problem in front of her and win the Championship for the dance. Cady ends up going to the Spring Fling dance and gets crowned Spring Fling Queen. Then she apologizes for what she’s done and gives compliments to her classmates.
  • Final Images: The final image of a story should be the opposite of the opening image, with the character in a new status in life. Mean Girls ends with Cady finally fitting in with her classmates and getting the guy of her dreams. Janis gets the head of the Mathletes as her new boyfriend. Regina joins up with the lacrosse team, Karen becomes a weather girl, and Gretchen joins up with the cool Asian clique.

This outline is great for action movies, romantic comedies, and ensemble pieces. I highly recommend watching Mean Girls and analyzing the story for yourself.

P.S. If you’re wondering who that adorable gravity-defying kitten is, this is Beatrice, a cute kitten owned by my best friend Lucia Marcella. Although Beatrice and her twin sister Charlotte have been recently adopted, they are already part of Lucia’s growing menagerie, as you can see here. Be sure to follow Lucia and her adorable cats (and other animals) on Instagram: