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Outline as your life journey

How you build your outline is a reflection of life.

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

You may not be an outliner, but here's an approach and philosophy that may work for you.

Stories are about characters wanting something, taking action, and facing responses. In the end, they get what they want, or they don't.

An outline is used as a way to track that journey across your story.

However, story is similar to life. We often want a thing, but the path toward it is never smooth. So we take the first steps and hope for the best. When it gets derailed, we devise a new plan and operate from that.

So here is the advice to use when outling: when building one, only plan out the first and second acts. Don't plan the whole thing because you never know if your plan will change. As you write, you'll come across unexpected responses and new challenges that may change the course of your direction forward.

Your character still wants their expected outcome but will have to adapt more than their initial action to get what they want.

By not planning too far ahead, you allow yourself flexibility and surprise in your characters' actions and words.

If story is like life, why not approach outlining similarly? Figure out what your character wants and send them on their way, ready to adapt as the story changes.


David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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