How I Outline My Stories

Hello, everyone!

Recently, I was chatting with one of my writing friends and they asked me how I outline my stories. If you have watched my first reading stream or read my first Q&A post, you know that I outline my stories before I write them. My methods for outlining have changed over the years, but I think that the current one that I use has been the most beneficial when it comes to crafting long, organized stories that I can actually finish. So, today I wanted to share a quick step-by-step guide on how I outline my stories.

Keep in mind that this guide is specifically for fiction stories that are meant to entertain. I don’t delve deeply into the story’s message or morals while planning because they tend to appear as I write or I already have them in mind. Also, this is what works for me in my own experience, so a different method may work better for you.

Without further ado, let’s get into the first step!

Step 1: Write A Basic Summary

This is always the first thing that I do when I get a new story idea. When writing the summary, include a brief introduction of your main characters and what you want to happen at the beginning, middle, and end of the story. This summary doesn’t have to be super detailed; I would actually recommend that you keep it pretty vague in order to leave enough room for growth, unless you know exactly where your story is going already. Then, you will be ready to move onto step 2.

Step 2: Break Story Up Into “Chunks”

I started doing this recently and I have noticed that it helps me write longer stories, which is something that I struggled with in the past. In this step, break the story up into different sections. Keep in mind that you don’t need to have equal-length chunks, so each chunk can have a different number of chapters. My current project, The Rise of The Dragon Queen, is broken up into five different chunks of varying lengths and each one ends at a specific turning point, such as the main character being given options, learning something new, or gaining a new skill. After I have decided how to split the story, I write one-sentence summaries of each chunk to get a basic idea of what happens in each piece.

Step 3: List Needed Events For Each Chunk

After you have determined how to split up the story, start listing what events need to happen in each chunk. I usually do this right below the chunk summaries and it helps me determine where different details should go while working out the overall pacing of the story.

Step 4: Outline Each Chunk In Chapters and Scenes

Now, this is the part where I really dive into the details and it is probably the most time consuming part of this process. I use the previous notes, summaries, and event lists to plan out chapters and scenes. I do this separately for each chunk to avoid burning myself out and to help leave room for revisions as I continue to develop the story. For example, the picture below is the outline for the first chapter of The Rise of The Dragon Queen. (Ignore the green highlights, they are just used to mark what I have already written.) Each bullet point is a scene with a short paragraph summary of what happens in every scene.

If you are worried about the length of your chapters, just end them wherever it feels right. Also, you do not have to worry about describing each scene in complete sentences or anything, just take enough notes to where you will remember what you envisioned when you wrote them.

When you are done with this step, you should have a working, multi-part outline for your story!

Basically, that is how I outline my stories. I hope that this guide was helpful and if you liked it please consider giving it a like or telling me your thoughts in the comments. If you would like to learn more about The Rise of The Dragon Queen, more information can be found about it here. Also, please consider contributing to my Ko-Fi to help keep this site running.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Top 5 Methods For Finding Character Inspiration

Hello my fellow writers!

Raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself googling “character inspiration” before. I obviously can’t see you through the screen, but I am guessing that quite a lot of you have. Truth is, finding inspiration for any project is usually difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, I am going to list five methods that you can use to find inspiration for characters.

Let’s jump right in.

1. Use your friends

I used to do this all of the time. In fact, most of my old stories have characters that are based on my friends. I find this method to be the easiest because it makes me feel more familiar with the characters even before I begin writing them. If a character is based off of a living, breathing person that I know already, then it is fairly easy for me to fill in extra details to make them jump off the page.

Side Note: As a personal rule, I never base an antagonist off of anyone I know in real life. Chances are it will cause issues if that person happens to read your work and I’m sure that is a path that nobody wants to go down.

2. Look at character tropes

I utilize this method more frequently now and it helps me a lot. We have all heard about the epic hero or the omnipotent elder, and these characters show up everywhere in fiction. Why not give a go at creating your own character based off of these tropes? Try to twist them in a new way to create some memorable characters!

Side Note: You can also base characters off of elemental tropes. What I mean by this is that a character based off fire would be energetic and volatile while a character based off of water would be cool and calm. Just an idea. You can also twist these to where they are the opposite of what you might expect (like a water-based character acting more aggressive, like a tsunami).

3. Make characters based on zodiac signs

I actually heard about this tip recently. I read somewhere that it is helpful to assign a birthdate to your characters so that you can find out what their zodiac sign is and make their personalities and actions reflect that sign’s typical traits. I have yet to figure out how well this works for me, but it seems like a great place to start. Also, in Japanese culture they tend to do something similar with blood types, so assign your character a blood type and check those traits out too!

4. Use a character generator

This one is really fun. The internet is full of generators that can create amazing concepts and names for you, so character creation generators are available as well! These generators can throw a physical description and personality traits together to help give you ideas for new characters.

5. Look at existing characters

There is nothing wrong with modeling your characters off of existing characters; just don’t just replicate the original character. Maybe you like a particular character’s sarcasm and immaturity. Make another character of your own that has those traits! It’s fairly simple. Just make sure to mold the character into something new, not just a copy-and-pasted version of the character you modeled them after.

So, there you have it! These are five places to look for character inspiration. If you enjoyed the article, please leave a like or comment to tell me how I did. Also, don’t forget to follow for new content or share this article with your writerly friends!

Thank you for reading and good luck in your writing endeavors!