Sunday, July 31, 2011

Building an Outline from Your Foundation

Now you've got your one-sentence "teaser" for your story.  The next step is to use that to build an outline which in turn will be the "road map" for your story.

If you're writing a novel, you want to number your page (or the screen on your word processor) from one to ten.  If you're doing a short story, you might still go from one to ten, or your may do a smaller number, depending upon how long your story will be.  For each number, you want to write anywhere from a sentence or two to a full paragraph.  Obviously, Number One will be your beginning, and Number Ten (or whatever your last number is) will be your ending--remember that your teaser doesn't address this, so this will be your first time writing that down.  The numbers in between will of course be your progression from beginning to end.

Remember: This is just an outline.  You don't need to put in every single scene, event, or piece of dialogue here; just hit the high points.  If you think of something really good during the process, by all means put it in, but for the most part this is just a synopsis.  You're introducing the forest as a whole on this step, not necessarily individual trees.

If you're doing a novel, you have one additional step.  After this, you may want to start a new document and do a page synopsis of where you see each chapter going.  This gives your outline/road map a little more definition, and here you will be more likely to put in scenes, events, dialogue, etc., albeit in a shorter form.  If you're doing a short story, the outline itself should suffice.

When you have this done, you pretty much have the course for your story charted.  From here, it will be a matter of fleshing out the outline, adding detail as you go until you have a first draft.  Of course, there are more steps in between, which we will discuss in future posts.  Until then, Philippians 4:13.--SMS

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