Ciao, amici. We’ve been discussing story bibles. So far, in addition to the overview, we’ve covered the series premise, character sheets, and setting descriptions. Today, I’ll be discussing outlines, specifically outlining for multiple POVs.
If you only have one POV character, the information still (mostly) applies. You can just eliminate the additional columns.
This is the method I use to prepare for writing multiple POVs.
My latest project is a five-book sci-fi series with multiple points of view. In the past, I’ve technically written multiple POV works. I usually use the hero and the heroine, and in one series I added a third POV when I occasionally put in passages from the villain’s perspective.
This time, though, I’m writing a multiple POV in the true sense of the word. Not two or three characters, but a whole handful of them.
I’m an outliner. I can’t wing it and let my muse direct me. I tried it once. It wasn’t pretty. Outlining for me makes sense. It keeps me on track, but I’m not so wedded to my plans that I can’t veer a little bit if an opportunity presents itself. And my outlines aren’t extensive; just a line or two per scene so I know what I need to accomplish.
I never needed anything resembling a chart to outline my other work. But now, with so many people to keep track of, I was confusing myself. That’s when and why I created the rainbow-colored chart you see above. (And if this method of outlining interests you, just click on that graphic. You can download the associated Word file for your own use.)
It’s a pretty simple procedure, but it really helped me keep track of everything.
- I created a table. The first column is my action items. Each additional column is for a POV character.
- I color-coded each character’s column so they’re easier to track.
- I added the big points I needed to hit to the first column:
• inciting incident (plot point 1)
• pinch point 1
• pinch point 2
• dark moment (plot point 2)
- I put at least one open row between the plot and pinch points, but as I create the beats I need to hit, I add more.
Now it’s as simple as filling in the blanks. Instead of writing an outline that jumps all around between people and scenes, I can write one plot line, beginning to end, for a single character. Then move to the next, then the next, then the next, etc.
Once I have all the individual POV plot lines, I create my master outline, putting the scenes in the order I want to write them, making sure it all happens chronologically. Once nice thing is to have a cliffhanger ending for each scene. It virtually guarantees the reader will keep going because they want to return to that character (whenever his or her POV comes up again) and find out what happened.
This method makes it simple to keep track of all my character arcs and their progression through the story. You could also repurpose this for multiple timelines rather than multiple characters.
Have you written multiple characters or multiple timelines? Did you outline first? Do you have any tips to share? Let’s talk about it.