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    The Fledgling Artist

    Hello all,
    I don’t have a very specific question to ask here. I’m basically hoping y’all can tell me about your personal outlining process. I’ve never written very detailed outlines for anything fiction related before, so I’m slightly clueless. It seems somewhat intuitive, but I thought it’d be fun to ask anyways. What works well for you?
    (do you even make outlines? How detailed are they?)

    @all y’all

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    Urwen Starial


    Haha, I feel the same way! I hardly ever write outlines to start. I usually start the idea of the story first, then after I have a good idea of what the concept is, then I start writing.

    Usually with my outlines, I have a basic idea of what will happen, but I don’t know the majority of the storyline. So I start brainstorming. I usually write shorthand, and in a real outline format. An outline I’d write would probably look like this. . . (of course it depends on the story idea)

    I. Chapter 1

    A. MC goes to school

    1. gets beat up

    B. MC goes on walk to contemplate problems

    C. Meets strange man, says he can help with MC’s problems.

    D. MC gets kidnapped.

    II. chapter 2.


    See what I mean? The more detailed the chapter, there’s usually more numbers underneath the a’s and b’s.

    I hope that helped. I don’t know if it did, but I can tag a friend who might be able to explain it better.


    “Tears sparkle like fallen stars, the world at our fingertips, We didn’t know, It wasn't happiness.



    Hi there! 😀

    Personally, outlining is part in the writing process where I have the most fun. Planning and plotting come pretty natural to me. One thing that I have noticed about outlining, however, is that not all methods work with all books.

    For example, I have two WIP right now, one historical fiction and another set in the modern day. The historical fictional one is much more detailed and has taken much longer to create because I am working with both the historical world and the fictional world. The outline for the fictional story is much shorter and I will probably end up making up some of it as I go, just because of what the story is like.

    Here’s a quick example of how I do my outlining for my historical fiction story.

    • Katherine and the Queen Scene
    • Katherine enters the Queen’s apartments and bows (the Queen quickly tells her come closer) and is seated near her on a cushioned chair.
    • They have a conversation, and there’s a sense that the Queen is trying to feel her out. She soon rises to the unspoken challenge, (a match of wits and words) and the Queen seems to like that. At one of her answers, the Queen seems to smother a smile.
    • (Conversation flow goes like this: Queen asks about the journey, what she thinks of Coventry, the well being of her lady mother and their household, Katherine asks about “young prince Edward” and the King’s health.)
    • Her brother John’s marriage is mentioned/brought up. Katherine isn’t sure how much to say or if she should even talk about it at all, but the Queen tells her to “never mind diplomacy and politics, marriage is a woman’s matter—tell me what you think of the affair. Would they be a good match?”
    • Katherine then gains a little more confidence and speaks in favor of it..
      The Queen is quiet after this pronouncement. “Well, I suppose we will see if things work out that way.”
    • End scene

    So, as you see, I am pretty detailed most of the time. It’s not like this all the way through, however…sometimes I write full conversations and other times it’s just the bare bones. In total, I probably have over 70 pages of outlining for this story.

    My advice to you would be to figure out how detailed you need to be to be able to draft. For this HF story, I find myself getting writer’s block pretty quick if I don’t know enough about the scene I’m writing (especially when it comes to dialogue and important, plot-heavy conversations.)

    It’s different for my modern-day story, however. I can draft it with a tiny outline and it still comes naturally.

    So that’s why I believe it’s different for every writer, and probably for every book as well. It all depends on if it makes it easier for you to write the first draft—that’s where you’re trying to get to.

    Hope this helps some! Have fun figuring out your writing process! 😀


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by LRC.
    Naiya Dyani

    @the-fledgling-artist HEY! You’re back! (Sorry, I don’t think you know me yet, but I’ve seen some of your stuff. I love your art, by the way! 😀 )

    I typically daydream about my stories when I’m supposed to be doing school for a while before I write it. I jot down my random ideas on OneNote, arrange them chronologically, and kind of go from there! 😀 I’m DEFINITELY not a pantser, so I have to have concrete ideas before I start.

    Hearts are like matter--they can be beaten down, torn, and burned, but they cannot be destroyed.

    The Fledgling Artist

    That makes sense! Do you find that you usually already have the story mostly brainstormed out before you outline? Or do you use the outlining process as part of brainstorming?


    See above question, Haha ^^
    Thank’s so much! Just visually seeing your process is super interesting. I’d probably lean more toward detailed outlines myself.


    Yeah! I’m back, haha. We’ll see how long I manage to stick around this time. 😅
    (Thanks! *sucrries away to find your introduction thread*)
    So, bouncing off what I just asked everyone else, do you tend to outline as an extension of brainstorming? How much do you usually have figured out before you move into outlining?

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    Urwen Starial


    well… I find that when I get story ideas, I’m usually Doug some kind of thing where I can’t physically write out an outline or the idea, because my hands are occupied. But I think that I usually do more brainstorming before, like in my WIP I wrote out a majority of what I have written before I realized I had zero idea on where it was going, that’s when I started outlining. It was very messy too, but it helped a lot with the brainstorming for future events in the story.

    It kind of balanced itself out. I don’t usually write an outline before I start writing. Usually that comes after I started writing.

    Hope that helps!

    “Tears sparkle like fallen stars, the world at our fingertips, We didn’t know, It wasn't happiness.

    Zachary Holbrook

    I just scribble down whatever ideas come to mind. Like this:

    —Benor protects Tiel from some danger.

    —Tiel leaves an impressive mural in some public place, drawing Hector’s attention

    —Anarssan tells Benor and Tiel a story

    —Benor works for Jimothy Whitespring and encounters his supposed granddaughter, Lilian

    —Hector Greenstalker sponsors Tiel’s admittance to the super school

    —Rumors of war with the outlanders

    —Conflict arises between Anarssan and Hector, climaxing in Anarssan leaving for Ohailius

    —Nadassa charges Benor with protecting Tiel

    —Benor realizes he can’t pass the entrance exams for the super school. He mentions this to Jimothy, who offers to tutor him.

    —Benor studies intensely but still just barely fails. Say like, the top 115 students were admitted and he placed 116th. Tiel enters the super school without him.

    —The outlander army destroys a Zophandrian outpost. The Master declares a state of emergency. Because Zophandrius has no standing army, he announces that another round of students will be admitted into the super school this year if they train to become elite warriors. Benor joins the super school. Lilian qualified for the normal academic track but volunteers for military training


    Usually my outlines make no sense to anyone who is not me. 🙂


    おはいよう. 日本語は好きです .

    Veraza Winterknight


    Number one. FLEDGE YOU’RE BACK!!!! *tacklehugs* I’ve missed you!

    Number two. Outlines. So, I am a pantser. Tho I’ve started leaning more towards plantser recently. A lot of the time I do a ton of brainstorming in my head, or talk some specific points out with people, which sets off more ideas. And then I keep most of it in my head, maybe write some of the most important stuff down in a Notes Doc. Or write small snippets of backstory to help me remember. But for NaNo, I wrote down a vague outline. Like, just some of the plot points/twists. The ones I knew for sure were going to happen.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the outline right now.

    But even if I don’t have a very detailed outline, I still have a bunch of extra details in my head. So for me it’s a bit balanced. Some on paper/Docs, some in my brain.

    As for when I did stuff, that’s a bit more complicated. I came up with a basic plot and started the story, then I came up with more details and backstory and plot points as I wrote. Sometimes a single brainstorming session would trigger a bajillion more ideas. (Just typing ideas out to tell someone about them usually helps me come up with more.) And then before NaNo, I organized my thoughts into that vague outline I mentioned so I would know what I was doing. However, I was already 30,000 words into my story, so I just wrote down the outline for what would happen next. So it was kinda a before and during process for me.

    Hopefully you get something helpful out of all that. XP



    To answer your question about brainstorming: there is some brainstorming that takes place before I begin the outline…typically when a story idea comes to me, I think about it for a week and analyze it for its strengths and weaknesses and whether or not I like it enough to stick to it. That involves brainstorming on pretty much every level (character, plot, theme, atmosphere, vague feelings that my brain wants to convey… you get the point :D)

    If I end up deciding to write the story, then I start taking notes, and sooner or later I start the outline. Most of my best ideas come while I’m outlining, actually. Really, when it comes down to it, brainstorm happens throughout the entire writing process, no matter how you do it 😀

    Hope that helps some 🙂

    Sarah Inkdragon


    Outline? What outline?

    "A hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head."

    - C. S. Lewis

    Shannon Caeley

    Welp…I typed out a long reply, then I’m assuming the forum ate it. So I will now try to restate everything lol. This should be interesting.

    Hey @the-fledgling-artist! Great question. For starters, I think it’s important to realize that because we all think differently and have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, the styles of outlining that people use will be wildly different. I’m assuming you’ve already figured this out, but just in case haha.

    For me personally, I haven’t yet discovered the style of outlining that works best for me. My current wip does not have an outline, but the only reason I feel comfortable doing it is because I have a strong link with my characters. However, I know that after I’m done with this first draft, I’ll need to rework it for theme purposes. Now, I’m ok with that. I find it much better if I let the scenes work themselves in as they come, but like I said, only because I know what I want from my characters. My plan is to outline my entire story from start to finish when I’m done with this first draft, and then restructure and rework from a theme perspective.

    Now, this might work for you if you think like I do, slightly unorganized, but so many ideas that you probably forget more than you could put on paper in a decade. It helps me to let those ideas direct the story. But like I said, I’m setting myself up for a lot of structural/theme work later on. If I were you (and this is probably going to sound strange haha) I would write a few short stories, and try different methods of outlining on each. Kinda an experiment to see what works best for you.

    Anyway, hope this was helpful!!

    "Let us run with endurance the race that is before us." Hebrews 12:1

    The Fledgling Artist

    K A R I !! *Returns tackle hug*
    How’ve you been? Like, in an ungeneric sense? What have you been up to?

    That’s interesting! I’ve been thinking a lot about how it almost seems like outlining and discovery writing aren’t all that different. It’s almost like, outlining is the same as discovery writing your first draft, but on a smaller and less time-consuming scale. What are your thoughts on that?
    Same question, haha ^

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    K.M. Small


    I’m going to have to echo @sarah-inkdragon here. 😛

    I’ve finally had time to write a full-length novel for the first time in a year. And essentially, I didn’t have an outline. I knew the plot points. I knew vaguely how my character would change. I knew the first scene. So I just wrote that, and by the end, I had a vague idea of where the story should go next, so I followed that. Every time I ran out of ideas, I’d stare out the window for a while or reread the scene I just wrote until I imagined a new scene that made sense.

    I’m pretty sure this method is called “discovery writing.” I’m not sure how it would work for a longer novel or a series, but for this standalone, it’s been perfect. The writing process has epic-ly fun!

    Someone else probably already mentioned this, but just find what works for you. And even if you have something you think works, try something else just to be sure there isn’t a better option out there. Up until this month, I was an extremely detailed and obsessive plotter. Now I’m a panster. I’m still trying to decide if aliens took over my brain or not (and if I’m happy about it or not xD)

    "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

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