Outline Your Story In 15 Steps

Sabriga Turgon

The Meet in The Middle tool lays out your novel’s action

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If you’re writing a novel, try this oft-used Hollywood/TV writing hack to plot your story’s action: The Meet in The Middle.

It’s an action map, not a story description. And it’s easy — try it with a friend.

Create and number a 15-line chart.

Start with the opening plot action on line 1: Diedre hears a yell and runs out her front door (Novels must begin and end on protagonist)

Jump to the last line and list the story’s last action in line 15: RESOLUTION — Diedre & Joaquin walk into the sunset, hand in hand, with doves circling above them and angels singing

Now fill in all the action points between Dierdre’s first action through the story’s resolution by alternately jumping from beginning to end, with your climax around line #13 (story climaxes can vary — they can even happen at #15 to finish the story).

  1. Diedre hears a yell and runs out her front door (**Novels must begin and end on protagonist)
  2. Diedre sees the gang kidnap the mayor
  3. Diedre asks Joaquin to come home to Boston

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13. CLIMAX — Joaquin & Diedre run out back door during a police shootout

14. DENOUEMENT — Diedre & Joaquin tell police what they know

15. RESOLUTION — Diedre & Joaquin walk into the sunset, hand in hand, with doves and balloons flying above them

You end up writing it like this:

Line #1 Diedre hears a yell and runs out her front door (Novels must begin and end on protagonist)

Line #15 RESOLUTION — Diedre & Joaquin walk into the sunset, hand in hand, with doves and balloons flying above them

Line #2 Diedre sees the gang kidnap the mayor

Line #14 DENOUEMENT — Diedre & Joaquin tell police what they know

Line #3 Diedre asks Joaquin to come home to Boston

Line #13 CLIMAX — Joaquin & Diedre run out the back door during a police shootout

Line #4 Joaquin searches for Diedre in Boston

Line #12 Police arrive

Line #5 Diedre hides in the gang’s lair & sends Joaquin a text message

Line #11 Gang sets house on fire (By now, you’re nearing the climax of your story.)

Line #6 Joaquin calls the police then heads to where Diedre is

Line #10 Diedre & Joaquin run into an abandoned house and call the police

Line #7 Joaquin arrives before the police — gang throws Diedre and Joaquin in the cellar

Line #9 Gang chases them

Line #8 Diedre discovers a tunnel & they escape.

But your Meet in The Middle chart ends up reading like this:

1. Diedre hears a yell and runs out her front door

2. Diedre sees the gang kidnap the mayor

3. Diedre asks Joaquin to come home to Boston

4. Joaquin searches for Diedre in Boston

5. Diedre hides in the gang’s lair & sends Joaquin a text message

6. Joaquin calls the police then heads to where Diedre is

7. Joaquin arrives before the police — gang throws Diedre and Joaquin in the cellar

8. Diedre discovers a tunnel & they escape.

9. Gang chases them

10. Diedre & Joaquin run into an abandoned house and call the police

11. Gang sets house on fire (By now, you’re nearing the climax of your story.)

12. Police arrive

13. CLIMAX — Joaquin & Diedre run out back door during a police shootout

14. DENOUEMENT — Diedre & Joaquin tell police what they know

15. RESOLUTION — Diedre & Joaquin walk into the sunset, hand in hand, with doves flying above them and angels singing

Have some fun with this “novel” way of thinking—play it as a dinner-table game, a hanging-around game, a creativity challenge.

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Helping us get along with each other, the earth, and our precarious future. I write about the beautiful strangeness of life, women & kids, the planet's survival, and reflections from my 60s And I'll help you write your book.

Los Angeles, CA
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