Image: Matthew Loffhagen
There are no rules in writing so whether you decide to develop a plot outline or not, is entirely up to you. If you would like to give plot outlining a go, here are a few pointers to get those creative juices flowing.
This is the time to let your imagination go where it needs to—get a blank piece of paper or open a new document, start by writing down what inspired the story and go from there, noting all ideas you have had about the plot and the characters. Use whichever tools and techniques you find the most useful and stimulating, such as mind maps or stream of consciousness.
Try not to get bogged down drawing pretty pictures or over-describing minor details. These come later in the manuscript.
Questions to ask yourself
Once you feel you’ve noted down all the thoughts and ideas, focus on the following important questions:
- In which genre is your story?
- Where and when is the story set?
- What research might be necessary if set in real places, different times?
- What is the moral of your story?
- Who is your main protagonist?
- Who (or what) is the main antagonist?
- What narrative will you use, what would be most effective in telling the story?
Who are your characters?
Your characters are key—they are what drive the story. They must have dimension and if they are not likeable, they must be interesting. You want your readers to care about them as much as you do. Questions that might help you bring them to life:
- What are their story arcs?
- Who are they at the beginning?
- What is it that they are setting out to achieve throughout the story?
- What experiences will they endure in the middle?
- Who are they are the end?
- How will their presence in the story affect the plot?