• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 321 other followers

  • Douglas Daech


    Born near Detroit Michigan and transplanted to Tampa Florida in 1982, where he located the story called “Steeling Time”, the author now resides in Russellville, Kentucky.

    His past experience includes articles in the Tripolitan, (Journal of the Tripoli Rocket Association, June 1991) and TRASH (Tampa Regional Aero-Space Hobbyist). In 1993 and 1994 many articles were published in the Unauthorized Launch, the Tampa Tripoli High Power Rocket Club newsletter. A science fiction piece was also presented in the online magazine NTH Degree (May, 2004). Also, an award for creative nonfiction was granted in the 2007 Frank and Cellia Conley Writing Contest at Western Kentucky University

  • Links

  • Book Page

  • Book & Movie Reviews

  • Author/Publisher Newsletter

Do I need an outline?

I believe an outline is needed for a major project, say any fiction  over a few thousand words. For non-fiction it is almost a law to have one. A debate or work of argument needs that structure. You can’t prove a point or educate without some organization. My experience deals more with fiction, so I’ll explain what works for me.

Fiction and nonfiction are different, but a written outline will still help with both. Outlines are used to layout the time line, design the ups and downs and pace of the story. All stories have sections that the readers just eat up like desert!  The readers want cake, but they can’t have cake all the time. The meat and potatoes of the story have to be there too. Give them the cake on just special occasions to keep the reader happy and attentive. The outline helps you plan this. Seat-of-your-pants writers often run out of gas half way through the project. They veer off course and often create half-done work.  The story outline has an end in sight. It helps you work to get there, and know when the story is done.

One element of the outline is the thesis.  What message are you trying to convey?  The thesis can be stated silently or shouted in the title, but the bulk of the story should support and come to the conclusion that agrees with that statement. In fiction the thesis is usually unstated. By the end of the story a reader should agree and understand the point of the story. In Goldilocks and the Three Bears the reader learns without being told that you should always keep your front door locked. It is never stated. The reader is shown, not told, the thesis. A different approach is made in the Wizard of Oz. After the adventure, just in case the reader didn’t catch the meaning of the story, Dorothy clicks her heels and says, “There’s no place like home.” Keep the thesis in mind as you develop your outline.

Your fiction outline should act as a road map guiding the story line. Start with character development and the challenges that character faces in the plot.  Is it an enemy, alien, neighbor or girl next door, or perhaps an element of nature such as a volcano, storm or tidal wave? Describe any flaws or personal problems the character has that he’ll overcome as the story makes progress. Personal growth is important for your character as he meets the challenges of the story. Remember Jaws? Sheriff Brody was afraid of water, and couldn’t swim when he started fishing for the shark.

As the conflict heats up the story must rise and fall like waves, taking the reader on a ride. Map out the challenges and little victories on the outline as the story progresses. At a point when all is lost create an epiphany point with a final solution to the plot challenge. Build to the climax of the story when the main character grows and overcomes personal and plot challenges to succeed and concur.

Finally, a summery and cool down section should finish the outline.  This allows a satisfactory tie up of loose ends and concludes the story. Focus on the main character and his success in overcoming his challenge. Happily ever after is a bit light. Each major character in the story is affected in some way by the outcome of the story. Don’t forget them.  This also gives the story teller a chance to set up a sequel.

I used outlines in almost all of my work. You can get a link to them at: http://douglasdaech.yolasite.com/

And join my Author’s page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/writerdaech/?fref=photo

Advertisements

One Response

  1. […] Source: Do I need an outline? […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: