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Sequential Narrative

Sequential Narrative

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Published by Julie Gray
Here is a sample of a sequential narrative using the mini-movie or sequence writing method of outlining. It's incomplete - it's just a sample of how you might outline so that your draft never has a dull moment.
Here is a sample of a sequential narrative using the mini-movie or sequence writing method of outlining. It's incomplete - it's just a sample of how you might outline so that your draft never has a dull moment.

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Published by: Julie Gray on Feb 17, 2008
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11/12/2012

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Writing with the sequential approach can change your life as a writer.

Paul Gulino has a book about it as does Blake Snyder (Save the Cat, highly recommended). The point is that this is a way to track the arc (and location and knowledge) of each character. Each sequence has ten pages in it. Sequences 1 through 3 is the first act. Sequences 4 through 6 is the first half of the second act. Sequences 7 through 9 is the second half of the second act. Sequences 10 through 12 is the third act. Notice that sequence 3, 6 and 9 are the most important sequences. Because these are the plot point one, midpoint and plot point two, respectively. The biggies. When you write using the sequential method you will never have a dull page. Ever. Because each sequence will have a beginning, middle and end. Or – conflict, complication, resolution. And the resolution of one conflict in a given sequence will naturally push a conflict to happen at the beginning of the next sequence. It’s all causal; like dominos crashing into one another. Something I like to do is give each sequence a name, sort of like a dvd chapter: SEQ 1: What a Mess Roberta’s parents fight, then her father moves out; all on the last day of summer. Tomorrow school starts and Roberta is confused and hurt. (Idea: She’s a freshman not a sophomore and is new to parochial school? As a way of upping the ante on her?) **the above doesn’t sound like 10 whole minutes of movie to me. Maybe Chuck gets beat up here, or something. Look at each sequence and ask – is this ten minutes of movie? SEQ 2: New Friends Roberta meets her new teacher, old, cranky Sister Elizabeth and is sure this school year is going to be awful until she meets a new friend who introduces her to the music and culture of something new and exciting to her; Black Power. (Idea: and so is it here that Roberta combs out her braids, like at her friend’s house, and comes home with a huge afro?) SEQ 3: A Little Knowledge… Roberta’s newfound identity is something she has to cling to in a primarily white school but it irritates her mother, alienates friends in the neighborhood and culminates with talking back to Sister Elizabeth and getting suspended – and grounded. (Idea: Does Dora make Roberta apologize to Sister Elizabeth even though Sister E said that terrible racist thing? It’s so NOT FAIR) SEQ 4: Humiliated but not Defeated Roberta’s simmering anger against Sister E makes her refuse an invitation to enter a writing competition; she will not take any handouts from Sister E (I just made all that up; who knows) Roberta defiantly visits with her father against Dora’s wishes; daddy is proud of his rebellious little girl. SEQ 5: TBA SEQ 6: The Truth Hurts

Thanksgiving comes and Roberta celebrates with her grandmother when she finds out the truth about her father. The hurt carries over into bitterness and Roberta betrays her friend Cee Cee Try something like this: Seq 1 Main Character Antagonist Character Character Character Audience Knowledge Seq 2 Seq 3 Seq 4 Seq 5 Seq 6 Seq 7 Seq 8 Seq 9 Seq 10 Seq 11 Seq 12

So you are going to fill in each square in pencil with the location and action of that character. If they don’t appear, leave it blank. The purpose of this is that you can plot, plan for or just chart the arc of each character dramatically and emotionally. Sequence 3 is going to be a big turning point for your main character, for instance. So sequence 2 certainly will be causally leading him there, won’t it?

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