Master the Art of Plot Outlining with These Essential Tips and Strategies

How to outline a plot

When it comes to writing a novel or a story, many writers find it helpful to outline the plot before they begin. An outline serves as a roadmap for your story, helping you to organize your thoughts and ensure that all the necessary elements are in place. In this article, we will explore different ways to outline a plot and provide you with some tips to get started.

Before you start outlining, it is important to brainstorm and come up with ideas for your story. Think about the characters, the setting, and the major events that will take place. Consider what the goal of your story is and what your characters must overcome to achieve it. Once you have a basic idea of where your story will go, you can start creating an outline.

There are many methods you can use to outline your plot. Some writers prefer to work scene-by-scene, while others choose to create a more general overview. Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to have a clear structure in place before you start writing. This will help you stay on track and ensure that your story flows smoothly.

One method you can use to outline your plot is to focus on the characters and their motivations. Start by listing the main characters in your story and then think about their goals and desires. Consider how they will interact with each other and what conflicts might arise. This will help you to create meaningful and consequence-filled moments in your story.

Another method you can use is to outline the plot in a sequence of events. Start by jotting down the major events that will happen in your story, and then consider the cause-and-effect relationships between them. Think about how each event leads to the next and what the consequences might be. This will help you create a logical and engaging storyline.

Once you have chosen a method for outlining, you can start drafting your outline. This is where you will map out the structure of your story, including the main plot and any subplots that you want to include. It is important to consider the pacing of your story and where the important plot points should fall. This will help you ensure that your story is engaging from start to finish.

After you have created your initial outline, don’t be afraid to make changes and adjust as needed. Outlining is a flexible process, and you might discover things about your story that you didn’t realize before. If you feel that something is not working, don’t be afraid to go back and revise your outline. The goal is to create a solid framework that will guide you as you write your first draft.

In conclusion, outlining a plot is an important step in the writing process. It helps you to organize your thoughts and ensure that all the necessary elements are in place. Whether you choose to outline scene-by-scene or focus on character motivations, the key is to have a clear structure before you begin writing. So, start outlining and get ready to bring your story to life!

How To Outline A Plot In 8 Easy Steps

When it comes to writing a novel or any other type of story, outlining the plot beforehand can be a crucial step. Having a clear outline helps writers stay organized and focused, ensuring that the story flows smoothly and keeps readers engaged. If you want to learn how to outline a plot in 8 easy steps, keep reading!

Step 1: Brainstorm

Before you start outlining, take some time to brainstorm ideas for your story. Consider the setting, characters, and major plot points you want to include. This initial brainstorming will help you create a foundation for your outline.

Step 2: Choose Your Characters

Next, decide on the characters that will be central to your story. Think about their personalities, motivations, and how they will interact with one another. This step is essential for creating well-developed and relatable characters.

Step 3: Determine the Major Plot Points

Once you have your characters, think about the major plot points that will drive your story forward. Consider the conflicts, obstacles, and moments of tension that will keep readers engaged. These plot points will serve as the backbone of your outline.

Step 4: Create a Scene-by-Scene Outline

In this step, break down your story into scenes. Consider each scene’s purpose and how it contributes to the overall plot. This detailed scene-by-scene outline will help you visualize the progression of your story and ensure that each scene serves a purpose.

Step 5: Consider Subplots

In addition to the main plot, think about any subplots that you want to include in your story. Subplots can add depth and complexity to your narrative, and they provide an opportunity to explore different aspects of your characters’ lives.

Step 6: Choose Your Setting

The setting of your story plays a significant role in shaping the plot and atmosphere. Consider where and when your story takes place and how the chosen setting influences the events and characters.

Step 7: Establish a Point of No Return

Every story needs a point of no return, where the protagonist is faced with a choice or a consequence that sets them on a path they cannot turn back from. This point will create tension and drive the story forward.

Step 8: Write Your Outline

Now that you’ve done all the necessary preparation, it’s time to write your outline. Be as detailed or as simple as you want, but make sure it captures all the important moments and plot points. An outline will guide you through the writing process and help you stay focused on achieving your desired outcome.

By following these 8 steps, you will be well on your way to creating a well-structured and engaging plot for your story. Remember, outlining is a personal process, so find a method that works best for you. Whether you prefer a detailed, scene-by-scene outline or a more open, flexible approach, the key is to have a clear roadmap for your storytelling journey. Happy writing!

2 Consequence

In the process of outlining a plot, the second step is to consider the consequences of the actions and choices made by the characters. This is an important element that makes the story more meaningful and creates a sense of tension and conflict.

When choosing the consequences for your story, writers should think about whether they want the outcome to be happy or something more tragic. For instance, in a novel about a lonely spinster, the consequences of her actions might result in finding love or remaining alone.

In this step, it is essential to document each consequence that the characters face. This can be done through brainstorming or by using a method such as the “8-point plot arc.” By outlining the major consequences that will happen before, during, or after the midpoint of the story, writers can achieve a more structured and cohesive plot.

For example, in a chosen book, the protagonist wants to achieve a goal, but in doing so, they create evil in the world. The consequences of their actions might include the loss of loved ones, the destruction of their own world, or other terrible events. Each consequence should have a purpose and a meaning in relation to the overall story.

Outliners must also consider the consequence of not achieving the goal. What is the worst-case scenario that could happen if the protagonist fails? This creates additional stakes and tension in the plot.

When outlining the consequences, it is helpful to think about the cause-and-effect relationship between each action or choice and its resulting consequence. This helps create a logical progression in the story and ensures that each event has a purpose.

There are many ways to approach outlining consequences, and writers should choose the method that works best for them. Some writers like to draft a detailed outline, while others prefer a looser structure. No matter the approach, the goal is to create a plot that is engaging and keeps readers invested in the story.

In conclusion, outlining the consequences of the actions and choices in a plot is an important step in achieving a well-developed and meaningful story. By considering the consequences, writers can create tension, conflict, and emotional depth that will keep readers hooked until the very end.

Should you create a novel outline before or after you write your first draft

One of the biggest debates among writers is whether to create a novel outline before or after writing the first draft. There are different schools of thought on this topic, and each writer must decide what works best for them. Some writers prefer to create a detailed outline before they begin writing, while others prefer to dive right into the first draft and figure out the plot as they go.

Those who choose to create an outline before writing their first draft believe it helps them stay organized and focused throughout the writing process. By creating an outline, writers can ensure that their story has a clear structure and all the major plot points are accounted for. It allows them to see the big picture and identify any potential plot holes or inconsistencies before they begin writing. This method also makes it easier to develop meaningful character arcs and subplots, as writers can see how each character and storyline fits into the overall plot.

On the other hand, there are writers who prefer to start writing without a detailed plan. For these “pantsers,” the joy of writing comes from the discovery process. They enjoy exploring the world and characters they have created without being restricted by an outline. They believe that this method allows their creativity to flow freely and often leads to unexpected plot twists and character developments.

However, writing without an outline also has its challenges. Without a roadmap to follow, writers might find themselves stuck or unsure of what should happen next. They might end up with a plot that lacks structure or a story that loses its momentum. In some cases, writers might even have to rewrite significant portions of their first draft because something they decided on later in the story doesn’t align with what they have already written.

Ultimately, whether you should create an outline before or after writing your first draft depends on your personal preference and writing style. If you are someone who requires structure and likes to plan ahead, creating an outline beforehand might be the best option for you. It can save you time and make the writing process smoother. On the other hand, if you thrive on spontaneity and enjoy the thrill of not knowing what will happen next, you might find that writing without an outline allows your creativity to flourish.

Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to remember that writing is a highly individualistic process. What works for one writer might not work for another. The most important thing is to find a method that makes you happy and enables you to achieve your writing goals.

BASIC Document Book Outline Method

BASIC Document Book Outline Method

When it comes to writing a book, one of the first steps a writer must take is to create an outline for the plot. There are many different methods that writers can use to outline their stories, but one basic and effective approach is the BASIC Document Book Outline Method. This method helps writers brainstorm and organize their ideas, ensuring that they have a clear path to follow when it comes time to write their book.

The first step in the BASIC Document Book Outline Method is to choose a setting for your story. This is where your characters will live and take action throughout the book. The setting should be carefully chosen to support the overall goal and theme of your story.

Next, you must consider the major characters in your story. Who are they? What do they want? What is their role in the plot? It’s important to create meaningful and well-developed characters that readers can connect with and care about.

Once you have the setting and characters chosen, the next step is to brainstorm the main plot of your book. What is the central conflict or problem that your characters will face? What are the consequences of this conflict? How will your characters grow and change as a result? These are all important questions to consider as you outline your plot.

The plot itself should be broken down into scenes or chapters, and the BASIC Document Book Outline Method encourages writers to outline each scene-by-scene. This helps to ensure that there is a clear progression of events and that each scene serves a purpose in moving the story forward.

A subplot is also an important element to consider when outlining your plot. This is a secondary plotline that runs alongside the main plot and adds depth to the story. Subplots can involve secondary characters or explore different themes or aspects of the main plot.

Another step in the BASIC Document Book Outline Method is to consider the major moments or turning points in your plot. These are the big events or revelations that will keep readers engaged and interested. It’s important to have several of these moments throughout the story to keep the plot moving and create suspense.

The next step in the outline method is to think about any evil or antagonist forces that will challenge your characters. This could be a single villain or a series of obstacles that your characters must overcome. The evil forces should create tension and make it difficult for your characters to achieve their goals.

After you have outlined the major elements of your plot, the next step is to consider the order in which your events will occur. Will the story be presented in chronological order, or will it jump back and forth in time? This is an important decision to make, as it can affect the pacing and structure of your book.

Once you have followed the BASIC Document Book Outline Method, you will have a solid foundation for your book. This method ensures that you have considered all the important elements of your plot and have a clear roadmap for writing. Whether you are a seasoned writer or just beginning, this method can help you achieve your goal of writing a successful book.

Step Eight: Begin The Scene-By-Scene Outline

Once you have your basic plot outline ready, it’s time to dive into the scene-by-scene outline. This is where you will map out the specific moments and events that will happen in your story. The scene-by-scene outline is a crucial step in the writing process as it provides a roadmap for your novel or book.

Start by opening a new document in your writing software or grab a pen and paper. At this point, you should already have a clear understanding of your characters, their goals, and the major plot points. If you haven’t done this already, go back to Step Two and make sure you have a solid foundation for your story.

Once you have your chosen setting and characters, start by outlining the main events that will happen in each scene. Consider the flow of the story and how each scene builds upon the last. Think about the cause-and-effect relationships between scenes and how one event leads to another.

For instance, in a love story, the protagonist might meet a potential love interest, then go on a first date, then have a conflict that threatens their relationship. Each scene should have a purpose and move the story forward.

It’s also important to consider any subplots or secondary plotlines that you want to include. These can add depth and complexity to your story, but make sure they are meaningful and tie into the main plot in some way.

As you outline each scene, think about the consequences of each action and decision your characters make. Every choice they make should have an impact on the story and the world you’ve created.

During this step, writers might also consider any evil or terrible things that could happen to their characters. These obstacles and challenges create tension and keep the reader engaged. Don’t be afraid to throw some curveballs at your characters to make things more interesting!

By the end of this step, you should have a comprehensive scene-by-scene outline that details all the major events in your story. This outline will serve as a roadmap as you move into the next steps of writing your novel.

Remember, this method of outlining is just one approach, and each writer will have their own preferred method. Some writers may choose to create a more detailed outline with specific dialogue and descriptions, while others might prefer a looser outline that leaves room for more spontaneous creativity. Choose the method that works best for you and your writing style.

In the next step, Step Nine, we will discuss how to achieve a happy ending in your story.


When you are outlining your plot, there are many sources you can turn to for inspiration and guidance. Here are some ideas:

  • Books: Reading novels or books in the genre you are writing can help you get a sense of the structure and pacing of a well-written plot. Look at how the author has structured their story and consider whether their choices may work for your own plot.
  • Movies and TV shows: Studying the plotlines of movies and TV shows can give you a visual understanding of how stories are constructed scene-by-scene. Pay attention to how the characters, subplot, and setting are developed and how the story unfolds.
  • Real-life events: Sometimes real-life events can provide inspiration for your plot. Pay attention to news stories or personal experiences that resonate with you and consider how they can be adapted to fit into your story.
  • Brainstorming: Sitting down and brainstorming ideas can help you generate new plot points or twists. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it seems silly or unrelated. You never know what might spark a great idea.
  • Other writers: Talking to other writers or joining a writing group can be a valuable resource for getting feedback and learning from others. They may have great suggestions for your plot or be able to help you work through any issues you are having.

Remember, outlining your plot is an important step in the writing process. Whether you choose to outline scene-by-scene or create a more open-ended outline, having a plan can help you stay focused and achieve your writing goals.

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