One Way to Use an Outline
Some people like to outline stories, and others like to wing it. Both ways can be creative and productive.
But when we’re writing work-for-hire, as we are in Adorned Women, we are aiming at a very specific target. That makes the outlining method especially helpful. In this article, I’m demonstrating a generic outline that could work for a story. It may be helpful to fill out one like this as a test to see if you have a single-event story.
- Introduction: In this part, we tell, not show. When and where was the subject born? What is she famous for? Or what is the history of her life that will set the stage for today’s story? And—what about the setting and people in the story needs to be set up so we can understand the story?
- Creative Title: Look about 2/3 of the way through the story and see if you can pull out an inspiring phrase.
- Opening paragraphs:
- When and where is the subject?
- What is the subject’s goal in this story?
- Why does she want that?
- What will happen if she doesn’t get what she wants?
- Show her trying to reach her goal, but a conflict arises. Show the conflict and her reaction. [Repeat this step for as many conflicts as exist.]
- Black moment: Show the time when it looks as if all hope is lost and she is not going to get what she wanted in the opening.
- Then something happens—she remembers, or she reads something, or someone intervenes --and she comes to realize something new. This is generally where the inspiration shows up.
- Whatever happened has changed her life. Show a little bit of the changed life.
- Optional summary [one or two sentences.]