Whether you are a careful plotter or a happy pantser, this happens to every writer eventually. And let’s face it, it can really deflate your word count (not to mention your enthusiasm). Let me share a simple trick I like to use that I call Hit Point Outlining.
|A "Hit Point" outline I did using Scrivener|
While this may be a far quicker outlining method than the “First this happens-then that-then another-and after those” method, but this is a powerful tool. What this type of outline does is create a highlights-only overview to ensure every chapter drives plot and generates interest. It aids pacing greatly as well, because you’ll be able to see at a glance where the highs and lows are. Where too many lows string together, adjustments may be in order. I also find this way offers a better guide map for crafting than some other outline tricks I (still) use, since this focuses on where a chapter needs to wind up rather than how it should start out out. Oh, and did I mention you can also...
Incidentally, this is a great trick to use after the fact on a troublesome draft you’re editing. If the completed book seems boring, flat, or otherwise questionable, fill out a Hit Point outline for it. This may reveal enough about the overall plot to identify the right spots you need to shuffle, add conflict to, or otherwise jazz up.
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J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.