Building A Plot From A Single Sentence
July 6, 2021 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I remember a fiction writing / outlining method described here a long time ago that consisted of writing a single central sentence and then expanding on it with additional single sentences until you had an entire plot or possibly an entire narrative. (In my memory it’s similar to The Snowflake Method, but not an exact match.) Does anyone remember what I’m talking about?

As I remember the post, “expanding on it” meant explaining what happened before and after the sentence you wrote first. Though it’s possible that it might’ve meant adding more detail to the sentence. My memory is fuzzy. I am 95% sure that the process involved just adding a single sentence at a time.

It felt as much like a “solo game” as a writing technique, if that makes sense. (In fact, the indie TTRPG Microscope has a very similar structure, but that’s not what I’m thinking of.)

I also seem to remember the comment was by one of Mefi’s Own published authors, possibly jscalzi or cstross, but I searched through their posting histories for “outline” and “plot” but neither doesn’t turn up anything. That doesn’t really mean anything, though, aside from reiterating that I really don’t remember the details at all.

Searches on MeFi and AskMe for “plot outline” don’t turn it up.

The only other thing I remember about it is that the example sentence was a boy meets girl scenario, which is then expanded into a relationship. (I think. Again, I could totally be wrong there.)

It’s not The Snowflake Method but it seems quite similar to it.

I’m not interested in hearing about outlining methods similar to what I just described; I don’t want this question to be taken as a “tell me how you outline“ free-for-all. I’m only interested in finding this specific comment again.
posted by Ian A.T. to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I bet you're looking for this comment.

Start with three sentences representing the beginning, middle and end of your story.

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back.

Such a useful framework it's stuck in my head for fifteen years!
posted by shirobara at 9:01 AM on July 6, 2021 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: That’s it! Thank you so much for finding it.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2021

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