Laying Out a Story

Pivot Point Outline
Click to see full-size.

Sometimes it’s useful to use cards to lay out a story. I didn’t have cards to print on, so I printed out the scene descriptions, then used scissors to cut them into makeshift cards. So, this is the initial layout for my military steampunk fantasy novelette, “Pivot Point.”

The story is unique in that it’s set up as a spiral. It opens at the conclusion of a massive airship battle between the Empire of France, the foremost nation in the world and the last hope of mankind, and the forces of Faerie, marshaled by the Elves. Humanity loses. Badly.

From this point, the story moves steadily forward and backward in time over alternating chapters. By the end, if I’ve done my job properly, the reader will have to re-evaluate who actually won the terrible battle at the story’s beginning. On the erstwhile “cards,” the number in brackets at the start of each description is the number of days after, or before, that massive battle.

Don’t worry overly much about spoilers; the story has changed rather substantially since the original outline (as most of my stories do during the writing).

Anyway, I thought some folks might find this interesting.

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