How to write a story outline

A gender-ambiguous child 3. Describe Why the Problem Matters to the Character The more important the problem is to the characterthe more important it becomes to the reader.

How to write a story outline

The secret is to incorporate the 8 Basic Plot Elements. Starting with your story idea, you only need to make eight choices to ensure the plot of your future novel hangs together in a meaningful way.

As you read through the rest of this page, jot down ideas for how each element might work in your story. Create a plot outline for your novel in the way suggested below.

You may find you can strengthen your novel plot considerably by incorporating any plot element you neglected before. Story Goal The first element to include in your plot outline is the Story Goal, which we covered in detail in the previous article, The Key to a Solid Plot: Choosing a Story Goal.

To summarize, the plot of any story is a sequence of events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal. There are many ways we could involve other characters in this goal. For instance, we could give our protagonist It could be losing good employees to other companies that do.

In other words, after we have chosen a Story Goal, we will build a world around our protagonist that includes many perspectives on the problem and makes the goal important to everyone in that world. Make a list of potential goals that fits the idea you are working on. Then choose choose one goal to base your plot outline on.

The Consequence is the negative situation or event that will result if the Goal is not achieved. Avoiding the Consequence justifies the effort required in pursuing the Story Goal, both to the characters in your novel and the reader, and that makes it an important part of your plot outline.

The combination of goal and consequence creates the main dramatic tension in your plot. In some stories, the protagonist may begin by deciding to resolve a problem or pursue a goal. Later, that goal becomes more meaningful when he discovers that a terrible consequence will occur if he fails.

As Melanie Anne Phillips points out, in some stories the consequence seems to be in effect when the story opens. Perhaps the evil despot is already on the throne and the Story Goal is to depose him.

In that case, the consequence, if the protagonist fails, is that things will stay the way they are. We could make the Consequence worse perhaps the aunt dies of starvation because she is feeble and has no immediate family looking after her.

Or we could create a different Consequence. Her employer may go bankrupt unless it becomes more family-friendly. Write a list of possible Consequences you could have in your plot outline. Then choose one to be the counterpoint to your chosen Story Goal.

Requirements The third element of your plot outline, Requirements, describes what must be accomplished in order to achieve the goal. You can think of this as a checklist of one or more events. As the Requirements are met in the course of the novel, the reader will feel the characters are getting closer to the attainment of the goal.

What could the Requirements be in our executive story? Well, if the goal is for our protagonist to find true love, perhaps she will need to join a singles club or dating service so she can meet single men. Perhaps she will need to take a holiday or leave of absence from her job.

Ask yourself what event s might need to happen for the goal in your novel to be achieved. List as many possibilities as you can think of.

To keep things simple for the moment, just choose one requirement for now to include in your plot outline.

how to write a story outline

Forewarnings Forewarnings are the counterpart to requirements.Learn how to write a story outline with the famed story circle. It’s a blank story outline example, essentially.

Act one: set up. Every story has a protagonist. The first step, or sequence, is about establishing the protagonist and their world.

The first step to writing a short story is to write the former, the story, that version of the story that you would tell a friend. And when you write it, be sure to write it in one sitting. Just tell the story. Sep 11,  · To write a plot outline or plot diagram, draw a short horizontal line on a piece of paper to represent the exposition, which introduces the characters.

Then, angle the line up sharply so that angle can represent the inciting incident that changes the main character's life%(40). The first element to include in your plot outline is the Story Goal, which we covered in detail in the previous article, The Key to a Solid Plot: Choosing a Story Goal.

To summarize, the plot of any story is a sequence of events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal. After you've defined the core concepts that power your short story and its reason for needing to be written, you can now write the short story outline at a high-level, ideally connecting the summary to the story's theme and the character's theme.

how to write a story outline

An outline for a story, however, is different from an outline for a research paper. Take care as you write your outline not to make it overly detailed as .

Create A Plot Outline In 8 Easy Steps