Wanting to be able to outline a story is a reasonable thing to want to do as a creative writer. It can be hard however so here are some basic tips to help you on your way outlining your story before you start actually getting into the details.
- Come up with a premise: an idea that your story is based upon. It is an idea that is the fundamental of the story, the driving force behind it, you must do this before anything else for it will shape everything else that comes after. It is the most critical piece of an outline, without it nothing else will work.
- Come up with ideas for scenes: Scenes are basically plot points, a story should only ever have scenes that either help flesh out the world or most importantly drive the plot. Think of them as if they are scenes from a movie. Scenes should be things that drive the plot forward and help the reader understand the world you have created.
- Create characters: The reason why the Scenes and Premise come first is that you want to create characters that work in both of these. Creating characters first will lead to harder decisions later on as you will then have to work the whole story around the character rather than around the plot you have created. Try to make sure that your characters have flaws as well as feats because a flawless hero seems less human and readers have trouble trying to associate with them.
- Settings: Settings are the places where the story takes place, think of them as locations. You should write down what they look like, the sounds characters can hear there, the smells and any other information that may help with describing the location.
- Create a completed outline of the story: almost like a first draft but more in point form. It should be a Timeline of the events that take place and have the named character and the location for each scene that takes place.
- Edit: The first outline that you complete may have some issues, whether it’s too long or doesn’t fit what you wanted. This is the part where you change it around to suit the vision you had for the story, see what works and what doesn’t. Do this as many times as you need to before you are happy with the final outline that you have created.
- Put it to use: With the outline completed you can now actually start writing using what you have created as a guide. The point of the outline is to give you a clear direction when it comes to deciding what you need to be writing about and when in the story certain vital moments show up. It is essential that the outline is finished or you may find yourself in the situation of the story not feeling right.