Apr. 20 Writing Prompt

So far in Ideas Week, we have looked at starting with a raw idea. We have also learned how to identify, early on, if that idea is a good one.

Today, we are going to take it one step further. We are going to examine that good idea, that passed the questions tests, and find out if the story is just a story, or if it is good enough to make a full-length novel.

One of the best ways to find out how much story you actually have is to create a Quick Outline.

So, that will be today’s prompt. Here it is all official and whatnot.

April 20

Take your idea and create a Quick Outline to find out how much story is there, and identify where you can add or subtract to make a full length novel.

A Quick Outline is nothing more than looking at your idea and questions, and briefly creating chapters with headings for your new project.

Unlike an actual outline, you aren’t going to write out full scenes and character development plots. Instead you just start numbering chapters, give them a heading as to what should happen there and see how much you can come up with.

Using our diamond heist coffee mug idea from Sunday, a Quick Outline may look something like this:

  • Ch. 1 – MC wakes up to make cup of coffee, breaks mug and finds loose diamonds in the handle.
  • Ch. 2 – Gets diamonds appraised
  • Ch. 3 – Police task force shows up to ask questions
  • Ch. 4 – Mug origins traced back to pottery teacher at local college
  • Ch. 5. – Teacher arrested as part of sting operation.
  • Ch 6. – Teacher confesses to crime but offers a bigger heist information and persons involved for plea deal.

Anyway, you get the idea. You keep going through each step of your idea from start to finish. Once you are done, you can look back and see where there may be weak spots, areas for subplots, etc.

Quick Outlines work well for idea-stage stories.
A Quick Outline can help you identify how much story you actually have with that new idea

You can add these extra bits in and renumber your chapters.

Now, while novels are determined by word count, you know you can write 1000 or 3000 words per chapter. Doing basic math, you can get a rough idea of how many words this idea can produce.

For example, if you can easily average 1500 words per chapter and your Quick Outline produced 60 chapters, you have a novel.

On the other hand if your Quick Outline only produced 10 or 15 chapters, then maybe you don’t have enough there for more than a short story.

It doesn’t mean you can’t write it out and see where it goes, but if you are looking to write a full-length novel, your short outline may be a big red flag to try something else.

When you have finished your Quick Outline, post in the comments how many chapters you were able to come up with and about how long you think that story would end up being if you were to write it out.

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