How to make a detailed outline simpler?

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How to make a detailed outline simpler?

#1 Post by inkbrush » Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:17 am

Hello, Lemmasoftians!

So, for a while now, a friend and I have been working on an outline for a game we want to make. We're probably at about 60% completion or so for it. However, as my friend is finishing up her school year with finals, I've been left with the task of completing the outline on my own. While looking back on it and trying to figure out where I want it to go, I realized that there were a lot of plot holes throughout and flipping between pages isn't exactly optimal. So, I wanted to create a physical version of the outline with note cards where I could easily see everything that happens and fill in any empty spaces and make sure that the main plot and sub-plots are balanced and such.

Unfortunately, the outline is so detailed that it feels like a really neat and linear idea brainstorm. Because of this, I've been lost on how to organize an outline that won't be an information overload, but also won't lose a lot of the original details and ideas that I have on the current draft. Mind you, I'm horrible at organization which is why I've come here for some hopeful wisdom.

Here is a preview of the outline I currently have so you understand more of what I'm working with:

* Opens with Eli with the girls at a practice(action scene)--they're practicing for their finals----Eli runs into the scene to see the five girls facing the enemy ("it's about time you got here" "do you have our *insert transforming device name here or weapons or something*?")--girls transform--fight between the girls and the enemy and they do a pretty good job and defeat the enemy
* When they're done practicing, Marina says something about how they're doing okay but she thinks they could do a lot better and then the girls talk to Eli and try to convince her to change some things about their costumes that they don't like and after that, Marina suggests that they practice again the next day and asks Eli if she's going to join them but Eli tells them that she probably won't be around much because she still has a lot to finish
* After the practice, Eli heads to a classroom to work on some stuff and accidentally walks in on the boys and apologizes for interrupting them but as she's about to leave, they tell her that they were just finishing up and then they chit-chat for a little bit before leaving
* Two weeks later, Eli is heading to the prep room for finals and when she walks in, she sees the boys and is like, "oops, wrong room, sorry" and everyone's like "YOU!?!?!?!?!" and then Eli finds out about the teams being swapped at last second. Then she watches the girls preforming for their finals and sees how much happier and energetic they are (in clothes that are no-where near what she was designing) and at the end of their performance, the boys are like "our turn" and leave with Eli's stuff and she's like "CGVHJGUFY WAIT--" and tries to stop them from going but they don't listen to her
* On stage, they use the super girly things that Eli made and end up making a fool of themselves in front of everyone while Eli stands on the sidelines watching them in horror
* After the public humiliation, they all go hide out in a classroom and start heavily arguing and stuff ("This is going to end badly again, isn't it?") and after their argument, they're called down to the headmaster's office where they get a slight lecture and they're all frustrated and are like, "well, if you wanted us to do better, our teams shouldn't have been switched at last second!" and the headmaster puts on a whole confused act of being like "what? you weren't informed of the switch? I sent out letters about it some time ago . . . Perhaps your old teammates didn't receive their letters either? Well, regardless, they managed to pull things off and pass their finals despite the notice."
* After leaving the headmaster's office, the boys are still angry and frustrated and so Eli tells them to calm down and suggests the idea of some positives and Damon is all like "that skirt DID make my legs look amazing"

My goal for this outline on note cards is to be able to lay out the important details and organize things in an optimal way. (The outline above is episode one of twelve or thirteen episodes--and each episode gets longer and more detailed as my friend and I cared more about the characters as we went along, lol. So, there is a LOT of information.)

I had the idea of writing everything in a "brainstorming" type of way and making a simpler outline from that . . . And once the note card outline is finished, I could go back and add in more detail and depth (since the major details will be mapped out in the order that I want everything). Do you think that that would be a good method to help organize my outline, or is there a better way?

I'm open to any and all ideas at this point. Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing the responses of some bright minds!

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Re: How to make a detailed outline simpler?

#2 Post by Lesleigh63 » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:01 am

Free-plane might help since you can hide the text and only see it when you hover over the 'label' for the scene etc.

There's more about it here (10th post down by Ookami)


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Re: How to make a detailed outline simpler?

#3 Post by SundownKid » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:24 am

You simply have to rewrite it in a way that does -not- have any dialogue or minor actions.

For example let's say a scene would be:

"Jack walks into the house, he says "Hey, what's up!" to his friend, his friend says "Nothing much", then he looks in his freezer and he is out of tomatoes, so he decides to go to the grocery store, then he gets kidnapped by Villain X."

A more proper way to outline it would be:

"After going back to his house, Jack goes to the grocery store, but on the way he is kidnapped by Villain X."

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Re: How to make a detailed outline simpler?

#4 Post by VimislikArt » Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:19 pm

Is this a branching path game, or a kinetic novel?

For branching paths, you probably ought to stick to details on the notecards that are specific for that path. Anything that's not important to why the story is going left instead of right should be omitted. A notecard might only read:
Kids get into a fight at school
with branching paths that lead to:
Decide to get smoothies
Decide to Summon Demons
As long as you're aware that EVERY DETAIL has to rely on this outline, it's a lot easier to parse out those little subplots - if you have a professor that gives them important information in a later path, but you realize that he got transferred to a different school earlier on in that same path, that doesn't mean that the whole outline needs to get changed, just that subplot (maybe a different character gives them that information, or have the professor not get transferred earlier on.)

For managing subplots, don't even worry about managing them on the outline - make each subplot their own little separate doc that refers to the outline.

For kinetic novels, follow the same protocol that screenwriters do - one half page outline per episode that cover the main beats of every episode; no dialogue, no details, just the broad story beats.
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