Historical Fiction Outline

Historical Fiction – Prewriting
Use this Vesuvius eruption timeline to help you plan your story
Predawn: many small
8am: small emissions
from the cone
1pm: sudden,
large eruption;
cloud of debris
3pm: Vesuvius
spews hardened
lava higher and
higher, debris clogs
the river Sarno and
the port; strong
shockwaves; most
people flee
5-6pm: Giant chunks
of pumice falling and
destroying buildings,
burying roads; 25kmhigh cloud of debris
and ash blocks sun;
many lightning
August 24, 79 CE
1-2 am:
mudflows spill
down the side
of Vesuvius
Herculaneum is
buried to the top
of tall buildings;
everyone there is
dead and buried;
the plume of ash
& debris in the sky
collapses on both
5am: Strong earthquakes shake the whole
area; 2nd surge of lava
flow further buries
Herculaneum; Pompeii
dark from ashes in the
air; survivors trying to
run but ashes clog
throats and streets
August 25, 79 CE
6:30-7:30am: 3rd &
strongest pyroclastic
surge reaches
Pompeii, but wall
stops it; more surges
force lava over the
wall; toxic gas
instantly kills any
people left; they are
buried in ash
Most people cannot sit down and just let a story flow from their brain, through their fingers, and onto the page. Even the best writers need to plan
their story. This means deciding on a character’s traits, what the problem is, how the character will deal with the problem, and what the outcome
will be. In this assignment, the problem is the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. This checklist is to help you plan the other details of your story.
Character (Choose the details)
 Child who is separated from parents?
 Parent searching for a lost child?
 Adult helping others to the boats to escape?
 Survivor trying to rebuild their life?
 Male?
 Female?
Names (Plan these also)
Your character’s name _______________________
Family members’ names:
 ____________________________
 ____________________________
 ____________________________
Other names you may want to use:
 ____________________________
 ____________________________
 ____________________________
 ____________________________
Create details that describe your character and his or her family
members. You must name each person that plays a role in your
narrative. How are they dressed? Are they tall or short? How does
their hair look? What is their job or role in society? Describe the way
the ashes have affected their looks. What sounds are heard? How
does it make your character feel?
You must mention something from each page of your research. Use
this checklist to help you to know what should happen next:
 The timeline of the eruption itself (see other side of page)
 Clothing
 Foods
 Technology, art, trades or jobs
 Religion
 Architecture
 Government and societal roles
 Family life
Each of these details can be worked in during the beginning of your
story as you introduce the characters, or during the search for a
missing family member, or while describing the things being
destroyed by the falling debris and ash. These details can actually
help write your story as you figure out ways to work them in.
Point of View
This is very important for your story, and must be used from
beginning to end, consistently. Is your story being told by a narrator
who is not part of the story (3rd person), or by the main character
telling his or her own experiences (1st person)? Once you begin using
1st or 3rd person you must continue to use it throughout.
First Person: I, we, me, mine, us, my, our
Third Person: she, he, they, them, theirs
You must write a minimum of 700 words. Use the word count
option in both Word and Google Docs.