Tools and Templates for Your Story Outline
As a writer, I am a planner. I am a huge fan of outlining a story or book and find the process extremely enjoyable.
Planning your book with a story outline is a great way to break it down into small writing goals, each with a focused idea.
What I love about brainstorming an outline: I can think up an idea, break it down into major scenes, and get an overall feel for the story I’m wanting to write. I can follow a general story arch and make sure that my major scenes are occurring where they need to. It’s a fun exercise that allows me to see the whole story idea come together before a word of it is actually written.
Scrivener is the number one tool writers use to write their books. It has great options for storyboarding/outlining. It formats your book for uploading to your publisher. Go check out everything this program has to offer. Honestly, if you don’t have Scrivener, I strongly suggest you make the investment. Below is my affiliate link.
If you have Scrivener, another great tool you may want to try is Scapple. Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does. Plus, you can drag your notes right into Scrivener.
What’s Great About Outlining
- Outlining breaks down your story idea into small enough segments that you can write about them in one sitting.
- You can focus on one scene at a time and know where the story is heading so you can really dive into the scene with confidence.
- You can add details concerning character development to the story arc. I actually add to my outline, about a paragraph on what’s going on in each scene, or what needs to happen, and what’s changing or coming to light with the characters.
- You can set a milestone goal for each scene and reward yourself each time you’ve finished one. Rewarding yourself along the way will make you more apt to continue with a writing routine.
Here are some great books I recommend if you’re looking to learn more about outlining.
Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
by K.M. Weiland
For those of you who are wanting to get started right away, here are some templates that you can post up as references to help you as you work through your outline. Although there are several different plot themes you could use and many different methods of outlining, in these templates you’ll find a basic outlining method that works well for most works of fiction. However, I highly recommend reading one or more of the books above before you begin.
*Right-click on the template to save to your computer and print. Images should print as 8.5 x 11 inch or you can choose your own printing options if you’d like them smaller.
Step One: Some basics to consider before you start your outline.
Step Two: Some pre-outline questions that will help you get started.
Step Three: A layout of a basic story structure for reference.
Step Four: A story outline template with the story structure highlighted where it should appear within the story arc.