Usually when people come and ask how to outline, I usually tell them to begin with a pitch. Because, for me, I use pitches as a basic plot and I don’t actually outline until I’ve actually gotten somewhere in my writing. And while I know some people like to write as they go, I don’t like to do that. I always like to plan the scenes in my head before hand to give me a sense of what I’m actually writing.
So today, I’m going to show you some of my pitches for my stories and show you how exactly I do this.
Pitch #1- Night Lies (YA Science Fiction)
In the futuristic New World, there is more to its citizens than meets the eyes. Seventeen-year-old Xander Fletcher is ready to become the world’s youngest person to have won a Skywind Tournament. But not everyone who races makes it out alive and sometimes, even dreams themselves do not make it.
So in this paragraph I introduce the protagonist, Xander. I know that Xander wants to win the Skywind tournament (a hoverbike race). I also know that its set in the future and that its a dangerous race. So after those basic points, I know that I need a beginning. How about starting with Xander beginning the race?
With a dangerous secret of her own, Faith Fletcher struggles to protect herself as well as her family as everyone’s lives around her seems to take a turn for the worse. A dangerous plot is afoot and it threatens everything she loves. But at the center of this plot, is Lieu Sparrow, a girl who’s luck had ran out from the start. And little does she know, her problems are just starting.
Here in this next paragraph, we meet two people. Faith, Xander’s sister, and Lieu Sparrow. Here we know that Faith has a dangerous secret that she’s trying to keep while everything is turning bad. What secret is this and what makes it so dangerous? I’ll make her into a mutant…because after WWIII (remember this is in the future) there was some radiation or some experiments that went on and now there are mutants. Its a dangerous secret because mutants are generally feared and they tend to disappear after turning twelve if their powers don’t disappear by then.
And Lieu Sparrow is at the center of everything because she’s friends with the Fletchers and she’s into some shady business. She’s being blackmailed into doing stuff she doesn’t want to otherwise her sister will be beaten. Maybe Lieu could be forced to interfere with the race somehow? (I’m actually can’t tell you why she interferes with the race at the moment because otherwise I’ll give something big away). Who are these blackmailers and what do they want? Maybe they’re a group trying to take down the government? But I don’t want to the government to be corrupt (because let’s face it, everyone’s government is corrupt these days) so there has to be another reason.
On the night of Xander’s graduation, after just having completed his Trial, their president, Idris Nayan, is murdered and nearly half the city dies in what seems to be a planned attack . What’s worst is that all fingers point to Lieu and she is no where to be seen. On top of that, the last person to see her just happens to have been Xander.
So here, we get to a big turning point in the story. After introducing the characters and their problems, we get to this. So why is Lieu being accused of this and where did she go? Maybe all of the things the rebels made her do is finally coming to haunt her and she’s being framed for it. What’s even worse is that Xander went to go see her (maybe because she’s running away from the police and she wanted to tell him that it really isn’t her fault), and now he’s being framed as an assistant of Lieu’s.
With his sister deep in trouble he can’t save her from, Xander must run from the authorities, clear not only his name but Lieu’s as well, and find out who’s really behind the attack. But with lies and betrayal at every turn, will Xander be able to prove their innocence, or will more die?
And finally, what trouble is Faith in? Maybe she was finally found out and Xander doesn’t have the skills or means to save her? And how will he clear both Lieu and his names? Maybe he has to find evidence that it wasn’t them or they have to take down the people who’s framing them?
So that’s my basic frame work. I’m actually seventy-four thousand words into the story and I’m not done. Originally, my plan was to start the story from the attack or have Xander’s graduation soon after the first race. But as I started to write the story, the attack actually ends up being somewhere in the middle of the story. As I wrote, I came up with some wonderful ideas, of which I can’t say, and I discovered that I actually wanted to start at a point and lead up to the attack so that my readers understood everything better.
I have the whole story plotted out now but I can’t give away the ending, although I can tell you that my original ending was that they end up being proved innocent. And when I started, Faith actually didn’t have a part in the story, but then I realized that no, she needed her own part because she too had a story to tell that deserved her own point of view.
You can read the first three chapters of Night Lies —> http://www.wattpad.com/story/1597887-night-lies
Pitch #2- Those Crazy Years (YA Steampunk/ Alternate Universe)
In those days, it was fashionable. Now its called années folles, the Crazy Years.
For every generation there are new rules and for the younger generation, this is no different. Just a bit more extreme. From debutante balls and gowns to short dresses and wild music, the young people are taking the world by storm. New inventions are popping up all over and they’re taking advantage of their new freedoms. They let no one opinion rule them and throw away the worries of their parents’ generation.
So here, instead of introducing my characters first, I introduce their world. Those Crazy Years is set in an alternative universe of the 1920s (because this gives me more room to make things up and have a bit of fun in the 1920s).
Trying to get away from her overbearing family in Carin, Juliet Roytson is taking on a new role as a spy and the stages of Ioasis are the perfect place to accomplish her mission. Her brother has disappeared and her government is sending her to find him.
Here I introduce my main character and her problem. So here I have to figure out why is she a spy and why is she going to find him. What even happened to him? Maybe her brother was eloping with this girl when the girl was kidnapped so he went after her. Well Juliet’s brother is an inventor and it was rumored that he invented some powerful device and Juliet thinks he was also kidnapped because of it.
Trying to escape his own family, Cassian Gibson, is quickly embracing the underworld of New Haven and becoming one of the most feared crime lords the city as ever seen. With the ever suffocating presence of his father’s new regime overcrowding his life, Cassian finds solace in the speakeasies.
And here we meet our other main character, Cassian, who just happens to be not only the second son of a new dictator (based off of the 1910s-20s Russian revolutions and the resulting Soviet Union) Cassian is trying to find a way to rule his own life without his father interfering. So he becomes the leader of a gang and fights back at his father’s oppressive new rules and policies.
When a chance meeting sends them spiraling into each other’s lives, they must work together to uncover a devastating plot and find Juliet’s brother before its too late. In the fashionable times, things are about to get even crazier.
So what is this chance meeting? My original plan was for her to meet him in a speakeasy but then it changed to something else. And what is this plot?
So actually this pitch is outdated as I know so much more about the story now that I’ve gotten 30k into it. Anyways, the big grand plot is probably going to be another world war (because they just got out of a big world war which isn’t mentioned in the pitch but should be), which they may or may not be able to stop depending on how much I want to stick to history.
So anyways, that’s how I usually begin to plot out my stories. Of course, the real plotting is made as I write, but I usually begin with the pitch and then change it as needed. So how do you usually plot or begin your stories?