Monday, February 4, 2013

Butcher's Story Skeletons

From Jim Butcher's LiveJournal page:

"The story skeleton is a description of the main plot of your book, broken down into its simplest elements: *WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. But will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?"

For example, the story skeleton for his first novel, Storm Front, was:

"When a series of grisly supernatural murders tears through Chicago, wizard Harry Dresden sets out to find the killer. But will he succeed when he finds himself pitted against a dark wizard, a Warden of the White Council, a vicious gang war, and the Chicago Police Department?"

I've found this exercise useful when trying to sort out my plot ideas. Refining all the ideas swirling around in your head can be daunting, but using a model like this can help bring structure to it all. I feel that walking through this exercise helps not only focus your efforts, but rein in the scope of your story.

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