Outlining the Story

For breakfast this morning, I ate a slice of sausage and pepperoni pizza that had been sitting out on the counter all night.

I am not proud of that.

But before you all decide that I’m a complete bum, I also began working on an outline for my story yesterday. The outlining process is tedious for me. I just want to get in there and write, but I have discovered that without a little structure, I quickly flounder and lose momentum. Also, outlining the whole plot helps me to gauge how much information to withhold and when to share it. Without the outline, I tend to spill all my authorial secrets at once.

Creating a thorough timeline of events is also helpful. Although my story is largely going to be told from Chester’s point of view, other characters (especially Jasper), will be controlling events from off-stage. Making a timeline of what certain characters are doing off-camera has helped me to see how conflicts and mysteries can be resolved neatly in the end. I think the timeline is a worthwhile step to avoiding plot holes.

Although a lot of the pre-writing work is not my favorite part of the creative process, I think it is helpful overall. What think ye of the pre-writing process? Do you skip it? Enjoy it? I would love to hear your thoughts.




  1. I love to write out outlines before I write. I find that my strongest pieces are the pieces that I did outlines for first. I find out that outlines help me clear my head and get the essential information that I want to make clear in my piece. It also helps me see what order I should present stuff in as well. I think you can never go wrong with drawing out an outline first 🙂

    I’ll appreciate it if you checked out my blog http://janachantel1.wordpress.com/ it’s about me trying to become a successful published author. And please feel free to subscribe!


    • Hey there! For some reason your comment ended up in my spam box. I just found it and dug it out! Thanks for your feedback. I’m trying to love writing outlines, because I do think they are helpful.

      Thanks for the invite to your blog. I’ll be sure to check it out!


  2. I’m a hybrid. Stories usually seize me and come complete with certain scenes playing in my head like movies. I have to get those down ASAP or I fear I will lose them. I know I have forgotten tons and tons of scenes and I always lament them. I’m always sure the ones I forgot were MY BEST! Sigh.

    But then, once the initial fever of writing wanes, I stop and do some intense plotting, with timelines, and scenes I need to happen or – in the case of one of my WiPs – a map of the city and an army heirarchical structure!

    The plot outline helps me keep on track as the initial excitement wears off and other ideas begin to gnaw at me. If I have an outline, I don’t need to be struck by the muse to write. I look at the outline and say, “Okay, today I have to write scene 21.” And then, even if I need to revise or scrap it, at least I have something to work from!


    • I love that. I like the outline because it gives me a goal to reach when other ideas/projects start calling my name. It keeps me focused!


  3. I’m the same way. I need to have a pretty detailed plan in place before I can write.

    I like the planning stage. I like the rewriting stage. It’s the first draft that I have issues with.


    • I usually have a lot more fun with the first draft than the rewritten drafts. Once I’ve churned out the first draft, my brain tells me that it’s “done,” and then I have a hard time focusing enough to revise it. Getting feedback from fresh sets of eyes helps motivate me to make it better though.


  4. I’ve always been sort of a plotter. I used to write down milestones and then write to meet the milestones. Lately, though, I’ve switched to outlining. It’s tedious for me, but I love the results.


    • You sound just like me! I used to do the milestone thing too, although lately I’ve tried to discipline myself to write out the whole outline. I think it makes the rest of the writing go much smoother.


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