Outline : Outlining Vs. Winging

Good Essays

Week #3: Outlining vs. Winging It

Why outline your story?

What are the benefits of outlining a story? Outlines help the writer to organize plot points and sequences. They help the writer to focus and stay on track. But when it comes to outlining a story plot, one size does not fit all. There are as many ways for detailing your story plan as there are writers—meaning, every writer must find the way that works best for him. Let’s take a look at several methods for outlining a plot.

Methods for outlining your story

Traditional approach. Otherwise known as the basic outlining method all of us were taught in fourth grade English class. For those having trouble remembering, each heading has a Roman numeral, subheadings underneath are …show more content…

And then the boss gives a short speech, announcing Mary’s promotion.
And then Mary’s co-workers whisper behind her back.
And then Mary comes home to find Tom at her apartment.
And then Mary shares her good news, but Tom doesn’t look happy, paces the room.

A variation on this method is to omit the words “and then,” which is what I do. The amount of detail in each line depends on the writer. This method works well for those of us who like detail, but also like a less structured approach to gathering plot information. Be sure and double space between lines in case further plot points need to be added later.

Free Writing method. Throw out all the structure, set the timer for twenty minutes, and write everything you know about this story.


Mary doesn’t suspect a thing when her boss gives her a promotion at the board meeting. (Mary happens to be wearing her brand new gray pinstriped business suit she saved up for months to purchase, just so she could be taken seriously. Play hardball with the big boys.) Her boss seems to be in a good mood when he tells her about the promotion, but her co-workers whisper behind her back. That slacker Bill Evans even smirks. (Probably because she didn’t go out for drinks with him when he asked her a couple of months ago.) Later, when Mary gets home to her apartment, Tom is waiting there for

Get Access
Get Access