Creating an outline for your story is one of the most basic, yet most complex, responsibilities that you have to handle before you can begin writing. Most writers frown upon outline as some form of prison to hold your ideas and contain creativity. Approached right, the outline is a great tool to be used in writing that can actually boost your creativity and build your ideas. How then does one create an outline that does not seem to choke the life out of both the writer and the story?
Come up with your main idea
The main idea is the plot that the entire story revolves around. It should be conclusive but leave room for development. Just because you want to keep the ideas coming, does not mean that you should develop a vague premise for your outline. For instance, "Guy gets into a train accident and has to live life with a disability while struggling to gain love and appreciation while atoning for past mistakes" is not much of an idea to go on. Focus on the character; before and after the definitive moment, which is the train accident, events leading to the accident, whose love and appreciation is being gained and such issues.
Develop ideas for the major events/scenes within your story
In our story for instance, it is important that you come up with an introductory scene or event. For instance, it could at the office a few weeks before the accident. The train accident is also a huge moment in the story so you will need to draft a detailed scene for it. Each scene should progress in sequence and it helps you plan how your novel will be from the beginning to the end. Later, you can switch up the scenes as best as fits the story; for instance beginning with the train accident scene instead of the office scene or introducing a hospital scene before either.
Character and setting research
This helps you come up with a deeper and more satisfactory understanding of the character and the settings that he/she has to go through. In our example, you could interview doctors, train drivers, people with disabilities and their families and you could check settings such as offices without ramps for wheelchairs, or parking spots for those with disability and so much more.
After all that, you will need to come up with a refined copy of your outline. This should then be condensed so that you are free to build up on the main ideas as creatively as possible. The outline should then be acted upon. You do not have to remain constricted within the outline and you can switch it up as you progress.
Still need more? Try my Plotting for Beginners e-book. Got more tips to add? I'd love to hear them, comment below!