4 Tips & Tricks To Help You Survive Your Outline

This week, I’ve been struggling with the outline of a story. So often it seems, when planning your novel or script, you get to a point where you’re happy – or mildly satisfied – with your outline only to find a plot hole or a character motivation that doesn’t make sense.

And then you have to unpick and re-stitch this delicate garment you have been slaving over for hours and hours.  It’s a bit like zipping up an overstuffed travel case only to find you’ve left out your hair-dryer or tooth paste.  It’s very frustrating, isn’t it?

I think outlining is a process and a process that can’t be rushed. It goes through stages of elimination and refinement. (And perhaps it would possibly be the mark of a novice if you believed your first outline would be your final outline. What do you think?)

Four Outlining Tips

Here are a few things that helped me this week – and maybe they’ll help you too. (Whether they will work next week, who knows?)

  1. Breathing room. Don’t be too rigid in the outline – leave space for other ideas to grow and be open to alternative plot ideas
  2. Cooling off. Take short breaks – sometimes setting the outline aside for a few days gives you breathing space, and when you come back to it you’re able to think more objectively
  3. Tuck it under your pillow. Sleep on it – often ideas to solve problems in the plot come to you while you’re sleeping, in the shower or on the train. Write these down – but don’t be too quick to put them in your outline.
  4. Good ol’ common sense. Don’t get (too) hung up on structure – write the outline in a way that feels natural and makes the most sense. This will help that your story doesn’t come off as too formulaic.

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1.  5 Ways To Add Love To Popular Genres
  2. 5 Ways To Start Using Killer Dialogue In Your Story
  3. How Do You Come To Story?

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