Outlining in Short

31 May


That is what I’m suppose to talk about it apparently. I’m not sure how much help I’ll be to anyone who needs to learn how to outline, because my outlining process is just as odd as my other writing habits, and is very apt to change.

I just haven’t posted anything useful lately and I feel very guilty. I’ve mostly just been ranting and that is not helpful to anyone.

But here goes nothing:

There are a few ways I outline both are very flexible and can be tailored to be looser or more detailed depending on the manuscript. For BTE I haven’t used either yet, as I DO NOT use any kind of actual outlining for first drafts. Most plotting for my first drafts goes on in my head as opposed to my second draft where I buckle down and actually put stuff on paper.

The first kind of outline I use is called “Domino Outlining” I wrote a post on this awhile back. Here is a little excerpt from it that tells what Domino Outlining is:

I view all the things that happen in a book as points of intersection. (The main characters world collides with a call to action, a call to action runs into an obstacle, characters cross each others paths, etc.) Each intersection changes your course, alters your path, and generally changes the final outcome of when and where you end up.

Each “intersection” so to speak, is like a domino. Each falls into the other, changing the path.

These are the points I come up with first. Following the age old advice of Lewis Carroll I “Begin at the beginning and go on till I come to the end: then stop.” I plan the course of events that “effect change” and turn my character in a new direction. This inevitably leads me to my ending. “

You can read the rest of that post with a corny example HERE.

The Next type of planning I use is called “Time Planning”

This basically is done by making a word doc. And breaking my story down into Months Weeks and days. I create a “month” title on the page then write the “biggest thing that happens in that month then I break the months into weeks, write what happens “Big” in those weeks, then keep breaking it down into days, sometimes hours if the book takes place within only a week or two. Example:


Duck finds out farmer is going to eat him

Week 1

Duck sees farmer sharpening axe

Day 1

Duck wakes up talks to horse

Day 2

Horse and duck walk around and see farmer

Day 3

Trail farmer and sees him sharpening axe

REALLY bad story, I know, but you see what I mean? You got to week 2, week 3, etc. This works really well for complex timelines, but can obviously be simplified. I use this a lot along with the next type of outlining.

My final major outlining technique is called “POV outlining”. This is best used with manuscripts that have more than one POV character but can be used with a singular POV character if you want.

Basically you take a POV character and using the timeline out ling shown above break it down even farther into sequences of events that happen to particular people. This is best shown so here you go:

Farmer                                                                         Duck

MARCH                                                                     MARCH

Decides to eat duck                                                Finds out farmer is going to eat him

I hope this has helped some of you find new plotting techniques. What do you all use to outline?


4 Responses to “Outlining in Short”

  1. gabriellan May 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    I love the idea of Domino Outlining. I think it’ll work perfectly for when I start editing the MONSTER, along with a little bit of Time Planning mixed in.

    I never really thought about all the different ways you could outline. That probably explains why I’m so bad at it! Haha.

    • nkeda14 May 31, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      Glad I could help, but surely you are not that bad at planning? haha

  2. juanvillagrana May 31, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    I NEEDED THIS POST. The time planning? It sounds brilliant! I will definitely have to try that out for my third draft. It’ll really help STARSONG out in the long run.

    • nkeda14 May 31, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

      It’s good someone got something out of my rambling! 😀

      Good luck plotting!

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