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Common Outlining Methods
- Summary: brief paragraphs giving basic detail about story structure and characters
- Skeletal Outline (bullet points): Main headings are exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Brief details are given under each heading.
- Chapter Outlining: Main headings are organized by chapters with short paragraphs providing the basic details of who, what, where, why, why, and how.
- Free Writing: Considered to be a pantser-friendly outlining method, this is done in paragraph format with thoughts about what will happen, questions you have, and notes on goals.
- Snowflake Method: A ten-step organizational method that isn’t pure outlining. Find out more about the Snowflake Method.
- Visual Map: A type of flow chart or diagram. Information is generated around a central topic with with lines (or spokes) connecting key points to sub-topics and other details. Also referred to as a brainstorming cluster or mind mapping. Download FreeMind, a free mind mapping software by Source Forge.
- Outlining Software: Gives you a specific format to follow and provides a variety of outline styles. Standard word processing software often includes templates for outlines. Software specifically developed for writers can also be used. A highly recommended writing software, which includes outlining capabilities, is Scrivener. Learn more about Scrivener and download a free trial or purchase the program.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you use outlines? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments below.
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