Outlining in 27 chapters

The 27 Chapter Outline

There are many different ways to outline a story from a simple bullet list of events to a more detailed description of each and every single scene. The 27 chapter outline seems to be a mixture.

     I came across this method for outlining on Youtube where a young woman named Kat described what the outline is and her reasons for using it above all other methods, though I’m not sure if she created it herself or whether she just adapted it to her own needs.

     In any event, it seems like an interesting way to outline a story in a linear way in which you can easily keep track of your plot.

     I have not used this method yet, but I’m sharing it here because I know a lot of people struggle to find a way of outlining that doesn’t leave them feeling too bogged down or creatively stifled.

Just to note, Kat used Scrivener to demonstrate this method, but you can just as easily use paper and a pencil or something like Word instead.

Anyway, here goes.

The 27 Chapter outline is made up using the Three Act Structure with each act divided up into three blocks and each block divided further into three chapters each. Each act is structured with Setup, Conflict and Resolution and going deeper, each block is structured the same way, so you have:

ACT I

BLOCK 1 – This block will introduce the protagonist and their ordinary world (Setup)
     CH1  – Introduction – introduce the main character(s) and their normal world (setup)
     CH2  – Inciting Incident – something happens to disrupt the status quo (conflict)
     CH3  – Immediate Reaction  – main character(s) react to the inciting incident (resolution)

BLOCK 2 – in this block, a problem disrupts the protagonist’s normal life (Conflict)
     CH4  – Reaction – the main character(s) plan what they should do (setup)
     CH5  – Action – something prevents the character(s) from implementing their plan  (conflict)
     CH6  – Consequence  –  the result of the character(s) plan being hindered(resolution)

BLOCK 3 – this block focuses on how the protagonist’s life has changed (Resolution)
     CH7  – Pressure – something happens to add pressure to the situation (setup)
     CH8  – Pinch – the antagonistic forces of the story become better known (conflict)
     CH9  – Push – the character(s) move into a new world/are now changed forever (resolution)

ACT II

BLOCK 1 – in this block the protagonist explores their new world (Setup)
     CH10 – New World – the character(s) explore new world/new way of seeing  the world (setup)
     CH11 – Fun and Games – the character(s) develop through bonding, having fun  and learning about themselves and their environment (event/conflict)
     CH12 – Old World Contrast  – show how the new world is so different from what  the character(s) knew before (resolution)

BLOCK 2 – in this block the protagonist discovers the crisis of the new world (Conflict)
     CH13 – Build Up – secrets are revealed  (setup)
     CH14 – Midpoint – something makes everything change… again (conflict)
     CH15 – Reversal something that has appeared to be one thing, turns out to be something else, e.g. good guy is really a bad guy (resolution)

BLOCK 3 – here the protagonists dedicate themselves to finding a solution (resolution)
     CH16 – Reaction – the character(s) react to the reversal (setup)
     CH17 – Action – action is taken against the events in the reversal (conflict)
     CH18 – Dedication – the character(s) regroup. They gather supplies they need, learn skills they need to learn (resolution)

ACT III

BLOCK 1 – here the protagonist faces defeat and victory seems impossible (Setup)
     CH19 – Trials – the Character(s) know what they must do now, what they must overcome (setup)
     CH20 – Pinch – somebody or something gets in the way of the character(s) doing what they need to do (event/conflict)
     CH21 – Darkest Moment – All seems lost (resolution)

BLOCK 2 – here the protagonist must find power and take action (Conflict)
     CH22 – Power Within – the character(s) rally and refuse to give up (setup)
     CH23 – Action – the antagonistic forces rear their ugly head again and must be thwarted (conflict)
     CH24 – Converge the character(s) gather themselves for a sort of last supper (resolution)

BLOCK 3 – here the protagonist fights, wins and resolves the quest (Resolution)
     CH25 – Battle – the time has come for the final battle (can be literal or figurative) (setup)
     CH26 – Climax  – the battle is either lost or won (depending on the type of story you’re telling) (conflict)
     CH27 – Resolution – the aftermath of the battle, the character(s) have grown into different people from those at the beginning of the story  (resolution)

That is the 27 Chapter outline, and I am sure I have butchered it somewhere. If you want more insight then here are the two Videos I have found of Kat talking about it: Here where she describes what the outline is and how it works, and Here for a more in-depth look as she transfers the outline to Scrivener.

 

I hope that this made some kind of sense to someone and that you all have fun planning and outlining your work.

As always, thank you for reading my words, the time you have spent here is much appreciated!

Until next time,

George

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7 comments

  1. Hello! This is Alice. Found my way here through Richie Billing’s blog!
    I like this setup, thanks to whoever originally came up with it! That said, it’s similar to almost every other three-act outliner I’ve seen, but I think that is just a testament to its usefulness. 🙂 Do you have any plans for using this in your own writing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Alice! Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is basically another version of the three act structure but I found it an interesting way to lay out a plot. I think I’ll definitely try it out, I’m always on the lookout for ways to make an outline as simple and as easy to keep track of as possible – I often find myself getting so lost in the outlining process that I forget, that the actual writing has to be done 😀

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      1. Go for it! 😀 I remember we used something like this to write a short story back when I studied creative writing, and while it seems mechanical and restricting on the outset, it was surprisingly flexible, because pretty much anything can go in any slot! By the way, what are you working on at the moment?

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      2. I’m currently working on a short story based very loosely onof Little Red Riding Hood with a bit of a science fiction twist. It’s coming on in fits and starts but I hope to have it finished soon.

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      3. Haha a lot of the things I’ve just read in your post ‘All the Can’ts’ -which is brilliant by the way. I get going and one thing or another gets in the way 😄

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      4. I feel for you, George! 😀 But one thing that comforts me is knowing that whenever we feel internal resistance toward writing, that means the writing is meaningful to us! Paradoxical, perhaps, but maybe knowing this helps. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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