Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Outlining With Robert Pattinson: The Setup

Ever since I've become a plotter, my life has been... weirder.

Why? Because of Robert Pattinson.

You see, whenever I sit down to work on my outline, his face is RIGHT THERE. Remember that post on how my writing stages mimic his hair? Same thing is happening with outlining, but not with his hair.

With his face.

So, for the next few weeks, I'll be starting a new series called Outlining With Robert Pattinson. Said series will go through my process of figuring out my manuscript in big picture terms (don't worry, no chapter/scene goals for this one. More like a map of the whole thing). For Part One, I'll start with...


This is where the story starts, which means your main character's boat has not yet been rocked. Or maybe it has, and you carefully blend in backstory with his/her current circumstances. Some authors love opening with character (voice), others with action and character. To me, this second option is what works best--revealing character through action. I don't mean having your MC kick someone's face and say, "Who's your daddy, biatch?!!!" I mean putting your character in a situation that makes him or her react as only they would. 

Basically, your MC is a rock star in the setup. Those first twenty/thirty pages show him/her at a really awesome/sort of okay place, depending on your story. You are quite literally setting him/her up to face something that spins their world out of control. 

During those opening pages, your main character walks around looking like this:

"Oh, hello, love. Have you heard I'm awesome? Because I totally am."--direct quote from your WIP.

So. That' the Setup, folks. 

Next week, I'll tackle... the Inciting Incident. *cue ominous music*

Now tell me: how do you like your manuscripts to open? Character? Or action and character? 


  1. Robert Pattinson? Count me in! I like my manuscripts to open with character. I always focus on character first and action/plot second. I'm learning through my MFA program that this isn't exactly a good thing. Again, every time you mention RPatz, I'll be there :)

  2. I'm a little bit more into Mr. Boreanaz instead of RPatz...sorry. I like my vampires with a defined jawline *pauses, dreams of Angel's jawline* Anyway, I like the steps you are taking to plot. I'm a pantser through and through, so it's interesting to see how the other half lives!

  3. I definitely prefer to start my stories with action, but I usually end up starting it with voice. Interesting... BTW, can't wait to see what other RPatz faces you have in store. :) Sorry, Magan--I have to disagree! Never understood the whole "Boreanaz" thing.

  4. I'm definitely a fan of opening with action. I'd say it's because I'm extremely savvy and a tight plotter, but I think it has more to do with how much more comfortable I am with writing dialogue or action, as opposed to internal monologue.

  5. Ha! Love this! I posted about this topic recently, and I tend to prefer just what you said-- a character doing something that is unique to them. It doesn't have to be a BANG moment, just one where something is happening that really shows who the character is.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great post. Looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

    As for opening, I'd like to think I'm more of an action with character kind of wip starter.

  7. I'd say open with action but if RPatz is gonna make an entrance then both! :-) Take care

  8. Uhh ...

    Uhh ...

    Am I supposed to sound smart right about now? Because ... I've got nothin'. I *think* my answer is character + action, but I'm honestly not sure. *shrug*

    *hides under a rock*

    YOU sounded smart though :)

  9. Hi Amparo, i love The cold shower, that's where i found you, Loooooove Robward foreverrrr, he's perfection #1 always, heheheheh,I love romance, action,and vampires, heheheh

  10. I always try to open with action and character. I agree with you, I think it's the best way to open and is the best way to hook the reader.

  11. He *is* awesome, LOL!

    Nice post on the setup--can't wait to see next week's entry! :D

  12. LoL. So true!

    I don't outline *gasp*, and because of that, I tend to rework the beginning of my stories over, a lot.


  13. LOLOL! Too silly, you! His hair is a bit crazy in that picture-I hope he tones it down some ;-)

  14. This post is made of awesome! I love that you're doing a series on outlining. I know I could use a fun refresher course! What's more fun than Robert Pattinson's face? I just don't know.

    I like beginnings full of character, whether they're action-movie-ish or not. But if they are action-movie-ish without introducing me intimately to the major players, I get grumpy.