1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is a story outline ?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Elgaisma, Mar 1, 2011.

    This comes up a lot -that everyone has a story outline so I was wondering what that term means to you?

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    Before I begin a novel length story I often write some short stories about the characters, put together a scrapbook of clothes my characters might wear, the locations I am going to use, houses they may live in (also collect slideshows from real estate agents of properties), may write conversations with characters.

    Then i write the first draft with a premise - for example Prince becomes King, Queen gets Kidnapped or one I wanted to write Dr Who crossed with Last of the Summer Wine in an attempt intially to keep it YA I included a school.

    My current work in progress came out of a short story - I know who the three main characters are and that there is a stone circle that goes missing when an artefact is dug up releasing the petrified witches from a curse. The witches want revenge on the village. Think that is the most detailed outline I have started with.
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Mapping out the main events that happen in the story~
    I usually do it for each chapter, just bullet points. Most of the time, it doesn't go to plan xD
     
  3. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    I take it as the leitmotiv, the backbone plus some flesh. A kind of summary, yet more focused on the storyline than the plot itself.
     
  4. DreamisVision
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    DreamisVision New Member

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    For me an outline consists of a synopsis and a scene list.

    I start my stories with a visualization of a main character and setting. I work on dossiers for my characters and get a general idea of what my setting is like and then come up with a basic summary of the story.

    The scene list is more of the actual outline part. While the synopsis might say that Joe jumps on a ship and then travels to Mars, the scene list actually goes into more detail by describing individual scenes and whats happening.

    The final layer of depth is the first draft, where dialogue, description and etc come into play.

    Then revision, revision, and more revision.

    An outline is less necessary for a short story. I tend to just let me mind flow and go straight to a rugged first draft.

    I find outlines are a must for a novel though. For my novel right now I have a completed scene list , dossier list, setting description AND synopsis. You'd think the hard part was over and I just had to write but i still find myself tinkering with plot details, characters, and etc.
     
  5. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    I start off with character profiles (though most of the characters in my current novel developed over the course of many previous stories and a couple of other novels).

    Then I do some worldbuilding, including a map and cultural notes, and a plot outline where I write down the main event for each chapter. I don't bother with the ending because there's no point in trying to plan it at the outset. The whole plot changes greatly as I write, but I like having some idea of where the story's going.
     
  6. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write a very detailed summary of each chapter, about three pages long each. I make sure I know exactly when things happen, and sometimes add some bits of dialog if I think of something I want to remember.

    I also make sure to have some backstories and the basic description of my characters. Plans don't change so often as I write, surprisingly, but I'm not opposed to changing my plans if I think of something that might work better.
     
  7. RightBastardWriter
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    RightBastardWriter Member

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    Story outline--the quick and dirty.

    --Who is my main character?
    --What is the problem/conflict they face that has great personal and emotional stakes? What event turns their world upside down and requires resolution?
    --How do they plan to solve it and what obstacles, each one greater than the previous get in their way?
    --How do they finally solve the problem/how does the story end?

    That's the framework I use.

    From there, character and story details emerge as I write.
     
  8. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure if this is really a story outline or something else, but I rapidly describe every important "what" in the story, and sometimes include the "whys."

    Each point I want to hit is only one or two sentences. If I come up with a way to get between two points, I insert it.
     
  9. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Youniquee, I would have to agree with you. It's an outline of the plot and main events. I outline my book into scenes, and then once I am done with it, I would assign them chapters if the scene really makes sense to the story. If the scene doesn't have conflict in that section, I would either obmit it without messing up the overall story or add conflict to it. I use Spreadsheets to outline my story, and it is much eaiser that way rather than putting the outline on Word, because Spreadsheet has rolls and columns and Word does to, but not better than Spreadsheets.

    In the first column, I would put the outcome of the scene (i.e. Jason gets kicked out of the house after his brother played a prank on him. He frammed him, so that he would take the blame and get kicked out, or something like that). Then in the next roll, I would put the POV character (which is Jason), and then in the next roll I add the description of the scene (i.e the setting, action, etc). And finally, I put the chapter or page number in the third column. Then I just repeat this step in the second column, third column, and so forth until I have all of my plots outlined.
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree some kind of outline is needed, but I've never done half of all those things you mention there.

    I guess it's different strokes for different folks. :)

    The most I've done is brainstorm/jot down initial ideas, and then very roughly plan - as I go along - what will happen in chapter xx.

    The rest comes as I write.

    Working for me so far...
     
  11. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    Oh, my writing will suck terribly if I don't do some kind of planning beforehand :C This tends to be because I'll have a good idea of how it starts, then some of the things that happen... and foop! I get mixed up and deflated.

    I actually really like your idea of scrapbooking characters and scenes etc. I've never actually tried that... For my current story I've written the sort of backstory bit (which is the thing that causes the actual story)- and a synopsis, and a vague backstory of some of the main characters. The plot actually developed from a short story I wrote (of about 400 words)

    I tend to find that listening to music and imagining my characters interacting, imagining their appearence and mannerisms etc. is what helps me write... :D
     
  12. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Pages and pages and pages of notes, sentence fragments, ideas, images, character sketches, thematic discussions, structural notes, style notes, references, quotes from other material. Everything is planned before I write word one.
     
  13. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I work in layers.

    The inspiration- the basic where it begins, where it will go, and a general idea of how it should end.

    the frame work: create the characters, figure out the lay of the land, what terrain fits the story, what creatures or people might they(MC's) meet.

    Walk through; tell the story, get the meat on the frame work.

    fine tuning: add the seasoning, the fat, make the story come to life.(sometimes walk through and fine tuning happen together)

    Conclusion; find the end(usually a suprise to me, how it actually ends.)

    Then edit, edit, edit.
     
  14. Terri
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    Terri Senior Member

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    I outline every work I do - with chapters & bullets posted underneath. I use a spiral notebook & as scenes come to me I can just flip to that page & add a rough-in of my ideas.
     

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