5 New ideas for outlining stories

1000storyideas:

Maybe you are tired of all outlining techniques out there… the snowflake, the skeletal, the summary, the visual map, you’ve tried them all. And, although they are great, nothing works anymore. Or never worked in the first place. Maybe, when you outline, you feel like the magic is gone, the story has already been told, you don’t need to write it anymore. Outlining makes your bored.

Then, you try going pantser, but you get lost to where your story should be going soon after the first plot point. Not outlining makes you lost.

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We need to jump outside the box of plotter and pantser. No one is 100% plotter, or 100% pantser. We are neither. In truth, we are explores, travelers, discoverers of beautiful stories, sometimes we have maps, sometimes we are following the unknown.

If we outline with fear and/or severity, we are doomed. Outlining is supposed to be on the creative side of the brain. It’s the whole picture of a drawing. Or the sketch of a sculpture. So, let’s try an artistic approach to outlining. 

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1. TV Series:

For a moment, pretend that you are not writing a book, but a 15-episodes TV series. Write down a small paragraph to what should happen in each episode. Don’t worry about details, make it general. With 15 episodes planned out, you’ll have a clear view of the story. As you write, use the episodes as guidance.

This exercise helps you explore plot details.

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2. Hours:

Think of your story as the hand of a clock, it has to run through twelves parts to close the circle. Draw a clock, but, instead of hours, write down plot points. Every hour should change the story somehow and guide the characters to a conclusion.

This exercise helps you keep track with the main plot.  

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3. Branches

Picture your story as the branches of a tree. Better yet, grab a paper and draw your tree trunk. The trunk is the beginning of the story. Part the trunk into two big branches. These two branches are two different turns your story could take. From two big branches, create four smaller ones. At each split, create a new course for your story. At the end of the exercise, you’ll have many outlines to choose from.

This exercise helps you

discover new possibilities.

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4. Mixing

Mix the outline of two existing stories from books, movies or games to create your own. Very simple and easy. Write down one or more paragraphs on how these two stories would merge into one completely new.

This exercise helps you unravel new angles to old ideas. 

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5. Tags

Make a list of 10 to 50 words of objects, colors, places, animals or even feelings. Pick three words randomly and try to incorporate them into your story.

This exercise helps you

think outside the box.

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You can try your favorite exercise, or all of them.

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