How to Outline your Story
You want to write the next Friends. How do you think the writers did it? Do you think they just went with it then and there without a plan? Or do you think that they just went “Hmm, what do we do new this week?” If you think their hit show was unplanned, you’re wrong. They might have tweaked it a little here and there, but what’s the real secret? Creating an outline at the beginning is the best way to write a short story. From the first moment Rachel and Ross spoke, the writers knew how it would end. Were they on a break or not? Them having a baby, falling in love again, was all planned. Not knowing where or how to start writing is the biggest obstacle for many people. The easiest way to start penning your story is by making an outline for it as it guides you in the right direction. It not only makes it more organized for you to write but also easier. Ofcourse, if you get new ideas, you can always change your story. This article is going to act as a small guide that can help you create a story outline.
What is an outline?An outline is the skeleton of your book. It helps you organize your ideas and what you want to write. It acts as a pathway to write your book. You wouldn’t go to a destination without planning before, do you? Same thing when it comes to writing your book. Here is an example of an outline: 1. Things to do in Dubai Beach.
- Burk Khalifa.
- Palm Jumeirah.
Why You Need An Outline?The outlining process is the secret formula for writing a book faster. Any author will tell you to do this if you ask them for advise. Knowing the secret formula will give you a story structure and will help write your book much faster. Once you put all your ideas, thoughts, stories, etc., in place, writing your manuscript will be easier for you. Remember, the outline is not the full description of your book. It’s just a rough story structure. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle. Once you lay down all the pieces, it’s easier for you to identify to put them in place. And if something’s missing, you’ll know. Don’t think of this outlining process as a waste of time or that you have to “take the trouble” to create one. Think of it like your next adventure or a map to make it easier to write your manuscript. Creating an outline can help you:
FocusCreating an outline helps you focus. How? Let’s say you want to start writing your manuscript without a outline. Nothing’s coming to you. You don’t know what to write about or how to start and just end up starting at the black computer screen. You think about how much time is getting wasted, get terrified and frustration slowly kicks in. An outline doesn’t involve writing the story. You just have note down the key points, of what you roughly want in your story and link them all together later. Writing down the key point helps maintain your focus.
Save TimeYou cannot get back time. When you have an outline structure, you can save time and start writing without having to think what to write about. Although if you do come up with better ideas later, you can always change/ add them to your story.
Write FasterYou’ll write twice as fast when you have your story outline created. You can finish 2,000 words a day instead of 1,000. To make it easier, you can finish your novel in just a month instead of two months. Think of all the things you can do with the extra month you saved.
The 4 methods to create an outline of your story:
- Synopsis Outline
- In-depth outline
- Snowflake Method
- Bookend Method
1. Synopsis Outline
- Involves creating a short document that is 1-2 pages long and gives you a rough idea of the novel’s structure.
- It leaves room for flexibility.
- The synopsis outline must cover: what happens in the beginning, middle, end? What are the major plots and twists? What is the climax and resolution?
2. In-depth Outline
- Is a more evolved outline.
- Is comprehensive and can take more time.
- Consists of writing chapter summaries and outlining different scenes within the chapters.
- Some in-depth outlines can be a mini-novel by itself, hitting around the 10,000-word mark.
3. Snowflake Method
- This method was created by Randy Ingermanson.
- Begins with a one sentence summary of your story.
- For example, if you take the sentence “It was snowing in Chicago,” you will have to build this sentence into a paragraph and then expand the paragraphs into four paragraphs, and so on.
- Goal: to learn more about the characters and their situation at every step. Goes on till you sketched out a comprehensive plot.
4. Bookend Method
- This outline involves plotting the start and end of the story along with the main characters – but nothing more.
- Recommended for writers who have a strong gasp of characters and the type of story they want to tell.