Doodle an outline

Try doodling an outline. It doesn’t always have to be structured and numbered.

Outline everything. Get into the habit of outlining from the start. It will save time in the long run.

Outlining Plot Writing

Writing Backwards

In 1842 Charles Dickens, in correspondence with Edgar Allan Poe, noted that when the author William Godwin wrote ‘Caleb Williams’ that he wrote backwards. He started by ‘first involving his hero in a web of difficulties and then casting about for some mode of accounting for what had been done.’ (The Philosophy of Composition 1846)

Likewise, Pierre Boulle who wrote Planet of the Apes as well as The Bridge Over the River Kwai, started by writing the final chapter of his books and then working backwards.

Try writing your story from end to beginning. Start at the end, then ask yourself ‘How did I get here?’ Picture the action and choices that led you to this moment and watch as your story emerges. (This technique also works with individual scenes.)

Emotions Outlining Plot Story-storming

Anger is a Map

Anger tells us we don’t like where we have been. It shows us where our boundaries are. It tells us we can no longer get away with the old life and habits. It tells us we are being reborn.

There is always a consequence to anger. It should never be acted out – but acted upon. It is a conscious reaction to being frustrated. It is your story map.


The Grenade Outline

Don’t write a detailed outline. Instead, write a list of short sentences. Scott Berkun calls these ‘sentence grenades, phrases loaded with opinions that generate shrapnel in your mind.’

When you read back your notes, you can expect ideas to explode in your mind. How these explode is entirely up to you – there is no right or wrong. You can abandon ideas or change the order or work with the opposite opinions. The only point is to withhold judgement on your writing until there are enough words on the page to work with.