I’m a big fan of Libbie Hawker’s work and I recently read her wonderful book on outlining: Take Off Your Pants!
I am using Scrivener, which I love, to write. I set up the Outline as a series of documents under the Research tab, as shown in the image below. The numbers in parentheses indicate the order in which each topic is filled out, according to Libbie’s method. (Note: I inserted an additional outline bullet, not a part of the original Take Off Your Pants! outline: Tone).
Below is the text of the outline. (Comments are welcome)
Main Character: Epenow, a young Nauset Indian captured by Edward Harlow and taken to England; he eventually escapes by convincing his captors (Gorges) that he knows the location of a secret gold mine back in his home country (Cape Cod).
External Goal: To return home after being captured.
Antagonist: First Captain Harlow, then Sir Ferdinando Gorges.
End: Learns to control his anger and frustration; gains self-confidence and calm confidence to swindle his captors and convince them to finance an expedition that will return him to his home. By the end, he is cunning and calculated.
Flaw: Hot headed; brash; too quick to action; too easily goaded into dangerous actions by rivals; puts brawn before brain.
Ally: Monopet, a friend, also captured by Captain Harlow at the same time as Epenow. Later, Assacumet, another Native American captive held by Gorges.
Theme: Self-control (self-actualization) is the greatest strength of all. (Sub-themes: coming of age in a rapidly changing world; the effect of external events on personal development; natural trend of all humans to manipulate and take advantage of others)
Tone: YA Hero Quest, dark undertones.
Epenow is preparing for the final trial in his path to becoming a pniese, the highest class of warrior among the Nauset people. Trial: the tribe is withdrawing inland for the winter. Epenow and the other pniese candidates must remain on Martha’s Vineyard (island) to protect it from threats, both human and spiritual. They must survive the brutally cold winter.
On patrol, Epenow spots an English ship in the harbor. Soon a landing party is seen on the beach. Despite warnings from the others, Epenow rushes to engage the Europeans. Harlow’s men capture all of the Native male teens.
Character Realizes External Goal
Pretty self-evident. They want off that ship.
Display of Flaw & Drive for Goal
Epenow is enraged as they are loaded into the ship. He causes a scuffle that provides Pechmo with the opportunity to escape.
Harlow is furious after escape attempt; makes his dominance known.
Thwart #1 (First turning point)
Harlow moves the ship further out to sea; the shore is barely visible-way beyond swimming distance.
A sailor instigates a skirmish with Epenow, who flashes to anger and, again, gets himself and others hurt by their captors.
New Drive for Goal
Epenow tries to get sold as a guide to a fishing vessel that might take him back to New England. Stands tall and proud.
Spanish Captain doesn’t want trouble from a physically strong Native, chooses Monopet instead (lost Ally).
Epenow tries to fight for Monopet and briefly breaks free from his handlers (although still in chains); Spanish Captain calmly points his musket at Monopet’s head and Epenow is forced to back down until Harlow’s men can recover him.
Furious, Harlow refuses to offer Epenow to other sailors. Offers only to West Indies plantation owners. Epenow is beaten again, but Harlow makes a point that they don’t hit him in the face-no visible bruising that will make him hard to sell.
New Drive for Goal
Epenow decides that the Caribbean is closer to his homeland than is Europe, so he attempts to be sold to a Caribbean plantation owner. Harlow: “Best behave. West Indies are closer to your home than Europe, you stupid savage.” Epenow tries to make himself diminutive.
Through a translator, the plantation owner asks what tribe Epenow is from. He is very knowledgeable about the different tribes—says that the more agricultural Powhatans are suitable sugar plantation work but that the violent New England tribes aren’t. Doesn’t purchase Epenow.
Disappointed that he can’t see Epenow, Harlow returns to England. Harlow decides that the best thing to do is to ‘gift’ Epenow to Sir Gorges as a replacement for his savage translator currently in unlawful imprisonment in Spain, so as to predisposition him for support of future expeditions.
New Drive for Goal
Epenow immediately tells Sir Gorges that he looks forward to working for him as a guide. (Progress, he doesn’t immediately want to fight him).
Gorges laughs at Epenow and tells him that he only bought to him for use as a ‘marvel’.
Epenow sees that his escape only served to triple the popularity of his ‘exhibit’. Assacumet is finally returned from Spanish captivity.
Despondent, Epenow gives up on trying to return to his homeland. English women are constantly drawn to him. He is lured into a romantic relationship with a particular English woman, falling for her false claims about one day purchasing his freedom so that they could be together.
Assacumet learns of this relationship and challenges Epenow; Epenow brings up the possibility of a future with her and she rejects him, as Assacumet predicted. Epenow realizes there is no future for him in England.
Girding the Loins
Epenow presses Assacumet for more details on the Challoung expedition, where he served as a guide—learning more about the European belief that natives were hiding gold from the explorers. He develops the plan to convince Gorges to launch an expedition.
Epenow must humble himself to Gorges, allowing easy defeat, in a false loss in order to plant the idea of the gold mind in Gorges’ mind.
Back in New England, Epenow must be extremely patient in making his escape attempt. Assacumet and Wanape push him to make a move as soon as they see the coast, but Epenow knows now that brash action won’t help. This costs him Wanape, who dies before the Wamponoags finally show up and are able to help Epenow escape.
Epenow has learned to control his rage and finally escapes English captivity.