A year and a half ago, I discovered The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird. At that time, I used his "Ultimate Story Checklist" as a tool for content editing, evaluating a draft of Dark Mural for further revisions.
Now I'm using Bird's book as I begin outlining the fourth Nicole Tang Noonan mystery. Each of those gray sticky notes represents a scene: Nicole goes somewhere, meets someone, tries to accomplish something, and fails (or only partly succeeds). She must therefore proceed to the next scene to take the next step toward her ultimate goal, solving the crime.
The column of gray notes represents the first quarter of the story, which Bird calls, "The Challenge." Next to it are place-holder sticky notes for three more columns, representing the second, third, and fourth quarters of the story. Bird calls these "The Easy Way," "The Hard Way," and "The Climax."
By itself, the plot could be represented by one long list of events. Breaking it into four quarters is Bird's way of helping the writer hit certain marks along the way.
When I used this idea to evaluate a draft of Dark Mural I found I had mostly hit those marks without thinking about them because I had read a lot of murder mysteries had a feel for how they unfold. Still, I had to make adjustments.
I hope outlining with these four quarters in mind will let me write a first draft that is closer to being an entertaining story. As the outlining proceeds, I'll post new photos.
By the way, that circular object in the lower left corner is the thing you put your fingers into when you want to slide the closet door open.