For centuries storytelling has been used to share news, explain events, entertain, inspire, and lecture. The earliest known example of written literature, as of the date this was written, is from Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians first developed cuneiform markings on clay tablets around 3400 B.C.E. At first the texts focused on administration, but by the third millennium B.C.E., there were also poetry and myths.
Poetry has a rhythm to it. A means to make it easier to memorize and pleasant sounding. Myths, and other story types also have a rhythm to them. There is a conflict or problem, the hero must determine how to solve the problem, and then they either do or they don’t. This can be broken down further into chapters. Each chapter is in itself its own little story. It will have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
In Pillar IV of Plot Development Step by Step by Jesper Schmidt and Autumn M. Birt, the Chapter is broken down into a series of questions:
- What is the character trying to achieve?
- What is the obstacle or conflict between the character and their goal?
- What inner emotions are attached to this obstacle? If they overcome the obstacle, how will that effect them internally? If they fail, how will the respond?
- What is the climax of the scene? The point of greatest tension before the character wins or loses.
Ending the chapter before the climax is resolved, leaves a great cliffhanger. For readers like myself, it means I turn the page and read on to find out how the character is doing. Which is the point of the cliffhanger. Who can go to sleep without knowing if their character lives, saves the prince, or makes it out in time before the confetti bomb is released.
They end the outline process with a list to validate the outline. Ensuring all subplots are folded properly into the main plot. And the most important point to remember: “the story always trumps the template.”
For my novella, my chapter outlines are synopsis. I think better in sentences than in bulletin points. Remember, this is my outline, not the written or finished product. So it is sparse in detail and missing formatting. It is my thoughts all pushed together and shared here. I am sharing the scene where the Inciting Incident occurs. Where Ally and Riley lose the envelope they have taken responsibility. An envelope that contains a signed contract that would save Riley’s family river cargo business.
Remember: this is a first draft, unedited. Therefore, expect it to be full of mistakes:)
“Riley. Riley!” Ally shouted over the boisterous crowd who surrounded her. It was then she realized the band were louder than the crowd. One of the brothers was glaring at the other one and pushed him out of the stage area. They both dropped their instruments and a fight broke out.
Ally, whose table was close to the stage, was pushed away from the table, her chair slammed back into the person seated behind her. Ally turned to apologize as other band members, and Riley, try to break up the fight. One of the brothers snarled, then punched his brother in the face. The injured brother stumbling and smashed into Ally’s table. The table broke under his weight, all of Ally’s papers, her drink, the table and the guy, collapsed to the floor. The patron she had been pushed into, pulled her chair back away from the fight. Ally lost sight of her papers and her bag as more members of the band jumped into the fight.
She could see Riley on the stage, his arms wrapped around one of the other band members who was throwing his drum sticks at the members of the fight. She was thankful to see he hadn’t been pushed into the fight. Once he had the guy under control he searched the room and looked relieved when he found Ally. She waved at him from across the fight to let him know she was okay.
Their must have been police already at the pub, because within minutes they were pushing their way through the crowd and breaking up the fight. The rest of the pub noise fell to a hush as the police broke up the fight. The band members swore at each other as they were subdued. Ally watched, wanting to pull Riley out and make sure he is okay. There was more than her table broken. Several chairs, glasses, and plates littered the floor from the nearby table and along the bar. The patrons who had been sitting in those places looked angry but she didn’t see anyone injured. The bartending was pouring fresh drinks and handing them out to those who had lost theirs. They must have been regulars, because the bartender didn’t need to ask what they were drinking.
“Thank you.” Ally said the the gentleman who had pulled her back. He nodded at her and took a drink from his stein. She turned to see what had his attention.
The bartender was shaking his figure at the band and swearing in German. She understood the band were told if they don’t leave now, the bar would press charges. Ally’s stomach tightened. Riley hadn’t done anything wrong and might get in trouble for being with the band. One of the band members stormed out while the rest agreed to clean up and leave. Ally searched the floor for her papers, hoping they were not too badly ripped or stained. She had been intending to show them to her parents to show the school would be paid for. But if they were covered in beer stains and ripped, they would not give off the best impression. She would have to see if the information was online and she could print off a cleaner set. Riley nodded at her and then turned to help the band carry out their equipment as Ally helped straighten up the bar. Collecting broken glass and plates on the floor so no one was injured. She would have to talk to Riley about this band. She already had a bad feeling about the two guys, but now she knew they were no good. It wasn’t a good idea for Riley to be connected to them. The villages along the Rhine were close, problematic people were shared to keep the locals safe. If Riley’s name was associated with this band, his parents would find out and the police would be monitoring him as well. All bad.
Riley finished carrying out the last drum then joined Ally who had filled a box the bartender had given her, with broken dishes. “Are you okay?” he asked as he carried the box and placed it on the bar.
“I’m okay.” Ally moved her chair aside and tried to find where her bag had landed. But she couldn’t find it anywhere. She had all of her papers, some in worse shape than others. If she had been drinking water it would have been better but the cola stains were through everything, there was no getting the stains out. At least it wasn’t beer.
“Riley, do you see my bag?” It was as if the chair and the bag simply disappeared. She couldn’t find either anywhere.
Frowning, Riley moved aside the broken table and found the chair in pieces below. But no bag. A chill swept up Ally’s back. She didn’t have anything valuable in the bag, but Riley did. “Riley, your parents envelope was in the bag.” Ally said quietly.
His naturally brown skin paled. “We have to get it back. It’s a signed contract between my parents and a new client. If they do not have it to him on time, they could lose the deal. And it was a really big one.” He swallowed, “They purchased a new boat for that contract. If we don’t get it back then the job could go back to tender and they could lose it. And they would still be responsible for the payment on their new boat.”
Ally was the one holding it, her stomach plummeted. She was responsible for the loss. “I’m sorry Riley. I don’t know what could have happened to it. I don’t know what we can do.”