An outline is likened to the Table of Contents. You can also think of it as the skeleton of your story. It includes important details about your story such as your setting, characters, plot, structure, and more.
5 Methods for Creating an Outline
1. Traditional method
In the traditional outlining method, you begin by dividing your story into different sections or chapters. When you have determined how you will break your story up into chapters, you will then summarize the plot for each chapter into two to three sentences.
2. Synopsis outline
Synopsis outlines are the informal equivalent to traditional outlines. To create a synopsis, you write down your major plot points - beginning, middle, and end. This method does not require you to organize your story into chapters.
3. Snowflake method
Randy Ingermanson devised the snowflake method, in which you start small, then build from there. You begin by writing a one-sentence summary of your story, then build it into a paragraph, and then use that paragraph to list your character names, storylines, conflicts, and individual scenes summaries.
4. Freytag’s pyramid method
The Freytag model was created by Gustav Freytag, where you begin by writing your story’s basic elements - exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
5. Bookend method
The bookend method is ideal for writers who don’t really like preparing an outline. The process involves writing a rough idea of your story's beginning and ending, as well as its main characters.
How does creating an outline help you write your story?
1. An outline keeps your story on track. When you have your chapters written down, you can break up the writing process so that you don't get overwhelmed when you start writing. A lot of times authors hit roadblocks or they fall victim to writer's block. This sometimes happens because you don't have an outline and you're trying to see your story in one big picture.
2. Getting your story organized with different chapters allows you to keep your thoughts together and keep your story flowing. It's also a great way to break it down into smaller sections. They say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This is your ‘one bite at a time.’
3. Another thing that you can do during the outline process is to think about your setting, the names of your characters, and plot. Each chapter will have a different set of information. Putting this information down during the outline process keeps your story in sync and helps you to move the story along.
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