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Pulling Together a Plot and Outlining a Novel Using a Starburst Method

Starburst Method for Writing a Novel

Starburst Method? What is it?

I’ve found it helps to consider some scenes. Not to write them. You may even want to role play them. And consider, e. g. when, say, a main character named Jennifer reveals she’s a zombie (or whatever your story is about), then there has to be some time before where the other characters think she’s a normal person. Hence that scene doesn’t come at the very beginning.

And I am suggesting a middle or even ending scene like this and not the start because I think it puts less pressure on me (your mileage may vary).


Hence the idea is to consider dependencies. I also will use a kind of (it’s not the official ‘snowflake method‘) starburst method where I will take a legal pad and write a major character’s name (or what the character is if I don’t have a name yet, e. g. the cab driver) and circle it. Just write it in the middle of the sheet.

Then draw spokes coming from the circle, as many as you like, and write more character names in circles, on the other ends of the spokes. Then, along the spokes themselves, write the connections. Not every character needs to connect to all of the others.


So in the example, Jennifer the zombie might connect to a cab driver because he picks her up after a concert. Some of those connections might turn into scenes, some of them might become back story. Or they might be scuttled. There’s no need to write absolutely everything.

Now we have Jennifer at a concert. Maybe she’s performing. And so we can work backwards a little, to determine a bit about her life or even when she became a zombie (maybe it was during music school).

Plot Advancement with the Starburst Method

We also go forward with the plot. Where does the cab driver take her? Maybe he takes her home. Or maybe he takes her to wherever she reveals she’s a zombie. Or maybe he kidnaps her. She might even make him her victim.

Consider where you want her story to begin. With her schooling? When she became a zombie? Right before she gets into that cab?

Consider where you want her story to end. With her revelation? Or with people accepting her new condition? With them killing her? Or with her striking back?

Hence you also ask questions (and you can have your friends ask you questions if you like, such as how she got zombified or whatever).

It’s not perfect; you still need transitions, but it works.