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Submitted on
August 29, 2009
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The Plot Outline

Ok! So you just had a super intense brainwave and believe it would make a great story. You have the inspiration, the energy and the excitement and can’t wait to go ahead and write it! Great!
   Now STOP and back off from the pen paper or keyboard. Diving into your writing headfirst works for the very very few, what you need is a plot outline. Without a plot outline, writing a story is like building a house with no blueprints to follow. A plot outline is your blueprint, the skeleton to provide the basic support for everything going on in your novel.
   Now making a plot outline is very easy, you just need to put the time in. The amount of detail you put into your outline does not matter, it can be detailed with full scene descriptions or just a couple of lines stating the basic route. As I said, it is the skeleton; the flesh can come later, most likely in your second draft. It is always best to make a minimum of two drafts of all your plot outlines, you may think of things you can add or take away.
   Now the golden rule when writing any story is to know the beginning and the end. This is the same when writing a plot outline and these should be the first two things you put down. If you don’t know the beginning of your story, how will you even start writing your brilliant idea? If you don’t know the end how will you know your there and finish your masterpiece?
   Once you have those two done, write any scenes you have in your head onto the plan, they don’t need to line up or connect and most likely won’t. Now that this is done, you will probably see more scenes you need to put in, so write them down. This is the simplest way to do it, add random scenes you know you want, then see what you need to link them together. Continue to fill out these extra scenes until you think you have a well fleshed story.
   Writing a plot outline can take days, weeks or just hours, it all depends on how much time you put in and how detailed you want it. If you take more than one day to write it or take a break, make sure you do not stop when you have run out of ideas, always stop during an idea. If you stop during an idea, you will know exactly where to start next time you come to work on it. A rolling start is heaps easier than trying to start by thinking up new stuff.
   Now once you complete your draft, you will most likely still be excited about writing it. But you should not just rush on, because it is still not finished, you need a second draft. You may likely think that you don’t need a second draft of it, but you do. Many stories fail because they lacked a revised plan, there are a lot of things that you can put into a plan and not realise the possible consequences.
   If it is the case that you don’t think you need a second draft, it is time to have a cooling off period. Don’t do anything; leave it alone over night, a few days, maybe even weeks. Leave it until you know you can take a serious approach to looking it over, otherwise attempting a revision won’t work.

The Second Draft

So you’ve left it to cool down a little and now think you can give it a serious revision, excellent. To start, go slow, make a tea, get a pen and paper and look over your plan, jot down any thoughts and ideas you may have on it. Ask yourself some questions about it: Do the scenes flow into each other easily, creating a continuous piece? Are they in the right order? Does the pace seem ok or do you need to add or remove a scene?
   Try to identify the main theme to your story, the main story it is telling. This isn’t really a necessary thing; you just need to get a basic idea of your core route or topic. All good stories have all the scenes relating in some way to the main core route. If you can see any outstanding scenes that don’t really tie in or aid the main plot, you should consider removing them or altering them to better suite. It is most likely that when you are writing you will find scenes that don’t quite fit and need to be changed or removed.
   Take your time with altering the plan, changing things until it all falls into place and everything seems accurately connected and fluent.

One Last Thing:

You are probably getting a little frustrated by now and just want to start writing your book, and by all means you can if you wish, this section is optional but will benefit you if you choose to do it, but not necessary if you do not.
   What I recommend is leaving it overnight or a couple of hours, that way you can have one last look before you start writing and will have rested from working on the plan, having new energy to put into writing it. This last stage really allows you to do the little touch ups, little details here and there that you can see. If you realize you are unsure on something, like the beginning or end, don’t be afraid to experiment with something different.
   If your story started with bank robbers getting off a train, but you decide that start may be too boring, then you can easily choose another way. Maybe they arrive by car? Or tunnels under the bank? Now that you have your blueprint, you can alter things without changing the structure; many architects design buildings and then find easier or better ways to make the building when on site. You’re on site when you start writing.
This is the tutorial for creating a plot outline i wrote not too long ago. I wanted it to be as basic as possible to increase it's flexability and understandability. It is how i take my idea's from being just idea's and make them into a full blown plot for my stories.

Please Comment!
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SaberxArt Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thnx, it helped alot.
sleepyweez Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013  Student General Artist
Thanks it really helped me a lot!
Notyrgrl Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2012  Student Writer
Thanx !!!!!!!!!!!
FuzzyDiceChick Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow this really helped me with a school assignment on writing a story. Thank you heaps! ^_^
KageTy Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for creating this. Untill i read this i had no idea where my story was going, now i kno exactly where i want it to begin and end. and the fun part is thinking of all the stuff in the middle. ^^ I hope my story will play out well. Thanks again ^^
Scara161 Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, I have so much trouble coming up with a plot. That's why nearly ALL of my story ideas died. This is really helpful.
Thank ya^^
IKilledYouInMySleep Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the tutorial! This will be very helpful for writing my current novel.
TrickCaster Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you very much ^w^ my problem with writing is that im one of those people that just starts jotting down the idea and doesn't think of the rest of the plot =3 this really helped me!
FernGaze Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love this!
Lafinatchu Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2010
Another fun way to do it if you're stuck is to think of your Climax and Ending first and work backwards to write the actual story.

Sometimes beginnings can be tough, but if you start with the Climax and Ending you can then begin to ask yourself how your characters got to that point. The more questions you ask about how they got there, the more your story begins to flesh out.

This place has great tips for writing. [link]
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