How to Write a Good Outline by Timothy Onkst - Updated September 26, Outlines are used in business, academic and research environments to prepare reports, papers and presentations. According to the University of Albany, writing an outline before a paper helps the writer organize his thoughts and write a better paper. By learning to write a good outline, you organize your thoughts effectively and see beneficial results in your work.
Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! Writers either love outlines, or they hate them. My experience has been that more often than not, those who swear they dislike outlines are thinking of them in the wrong ways.
Outlines are not meant to trap you into preset ideas or sap your creativity before you start the first draft. Outlines are also definitely not meant to be lifeless Roman-numeral lists.
This guest post is by K. She makes her home in western Nebraska. To imbue your writing with the full power of outlining, you need to approach the process from a mindset of flexibility and discovery. At their best, outlines can help you flesh out your most promising story ideas, avoid dead-end plot twists and pursue proper structure.
And the greatest part? They save you time and prevent frustration. Sketching out your plot and characters in your first draft can take months of trial and error.
Figuring out those same elements in an outline requires a fraction of the time—and then allows you to let loose and have fun in your first draft. Although this outlining method is one I use myself and highly recommend, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to outline a story. The only requirement is that you find the groove that works for you.
Your premise is the basic idea for your story. This is why your outline needs to begin with a tightly crafted premise sentence that can answer the following questions: How will that condition be changed, for better or worse, by the hero himself or by the antagonistic force?
At the beginning, what does the hero want? What moral or immoral choices will she have to make in her attempt to gain that objective? Who or what stands in the way of the hero achieving his objective? What misfortune will befall the hero as the result of her attempts to achieve her objective?
And what is the logical flow of cause and effect that will allow this conflict to continue throughout the story? Restless farm boy situation Luke Skywalker protagonist wants nothing more than to leave home and become a starfighter pilot, so he can live up to his mysterious father objective.
Roughly sketch scene ideas.
Armed with a solid premise, you can now begin sketching your ideas for this story. Write a list of everything you already know about your story. Even if you have no idea how these scenes will play out in the story, go ahead and add them to the list.
Whenever you encounter an idea that raises questions, highlight it. Your next step is to address each of the highlighted portions, one by one.
Write out your ideas and let your thoughts flow without censoring yourself.
Ask yourself questions on the page. Talk to yourself without worrying about punctuation or spelling. Did something in his past cause the disaster? What events have shaped him to make him respond to the disaster in the way he does? Once you have a basic idea of how your character will be invested in the main story, you can start unearthing the nitty-gritty details of his life with a character interview.
You may choose to follow a preset list of questions you can find a list of more than such questions in my book Outlining Your Novel: Look for settings that will be inherent to your plot.
If so, dig a little deeper to find a setting better suited to your plot, theme and characters. Can you reduce this list by combining or eliminating settings?Outlines can be a helpful tool when you're trying to organize your thoughts for an essay or research paper.
After you've decided on a topic and done some brainstorming to generate ideas, think about the best way to group your ideas together. Aug 24, · How to Write an Outline.
An outline is a great way to organize ideas and information for a speech, an essay, a novel, or a study guide based on your class notes. Decide if you want to write full sentences or short phrases.
You might use full sentences to make it easier to write a final paper, to make a good study guide, or to fulfill 85%(18). An outline is a “blueprint” or “plan” for your paper. It helps you to organize your thoughts and arguments.
A good outline can make conducting research and then writing the paper very efficient. How to Create a Sentence Outline Benefits of writing a sentence outline include: Clarity. If you can't write a clear sentence summarizing the paragraph's point, you certainly can't write a clear How do you know whether to change the paper to fit the outline or change the outline to fit the paper?
A good way to check yourself is to use. Admit it. You’ve thought about writing an e-book. In fact, you’ve already imagined the front cover.
You can see the main title, and underneath, your name. Good Hook Sentences Step 2—Identify the Purpose of Your Writing The next important issue to determine is the purpose behind your writing. A good hook sentence must be consistent with your writing.