Writing 101: Today’s Lesson: Its Good To Outline

In Week One’s lesson, ‘Character Dialogue‘, we discussed how to create authentic character dialogue, and covered some great steps and practices to follow and rehearse.  This week, I wanted to touch basis with more of the ‘new‘ or ‘beginner‘ writers, and do something for them, that’ll get em’ going on the right track.  I wasn’t sure what to discuss, and toggled between several topics, and finally decided it would be a good idea to write about why writers should Outline before beginning a lengthy project…Shall we begin?



Ok, I’ll admit, this isn’t always the best or most fun part of being a writer, but I’ve learned through trial, error, and tribulation that it definitely helps!  Needless to say, its become a long-time, and regular practice of mine.


I know many ‘veteran‘ or ‘seasoned‘ writers may be familiar with ‘Outlines‘, but some of the newer, or beginning writers, you may be asking yourself…”What is an Outline?”  An Outline is simply your initial and written ‘brainstorming‘ session about whatever it is you’re about to write.   Outlines are also called, ‘Guides‘ and/or ‘Layouts‘, or whatever you choose to title or call them, but they all serve the same, general purpose.


The general purpose of an Outline is to provide, you, the writer with a sense of direction.  As a beginner writer, it’ll be pretty hard for you to create a well-pieced-together article or manuscript, without knowing where you’re headed–without a sense of direction.  What do I mean?  Let’s say you’re writing your first manuscript; you need to know how it’ll begins, what happens in the first part of it, the middle part, the ending, etc…  Most important; what’s the story about?–Do you who protagonist and antagonist are?–Have you determined how/when they come into play?  These are just a few things an Outline will help you develop.  Let’s look at a few more.


So, I just mentioned how your Outline will help you develop your protagonist, antagonist, and the beginning, middle, and ending or your manuscript, article, etc…  But an outline also helps create and build your character-base; will you have a host of characters or just a select few?–What are their roles?–Do they all remain in the story or piece from start to finish, or do some of them fade out of the story?  The Outline should also cover your timeline, setting, and tone; when/where does the story take place?–How much time, if any, will go by during the course of the story/piece?–What kind of tone will the story/piece have?–Does it change, if so, in what way?  Your Outline can even cover places and locations that’ll be mentioned in your book, article, etc…  Finally, it will change–As you get deeper and deeper, and more ‘in-tune’ with your work, you’ll find yourself, making changes to your Outline–that is perfectly okay; no Outline truly stays the same from the beginning of your work to the end of it, and as a matter of fact; you’ll find yourself depending on it less and less.  Always remember–Change is good.


Despite popular belief, an Outline, or whatever you choose to call it, doesn’t have to be highly detailed–unless you want it to be.  Your outline should just give you a general idea of how to begin, develop and end your article, manuscript or otherwise; but its entirely up to you how simple or complex it’ll be–afterall, it is ‘your‘ outline, so make it ‘your way‘.

Just in case you’re still a little unsure of how to setup your Outline; here’s an example;




Year 2070, USA.  WWIIII has just ended and the United States is now a Post-Apocalyptic World–Nothing is as it used to be.  Martial Law is heavily enforced, etc..


Character A‘ (Protagonist), a doctor and family-man becomes a leader and encourages others to rebuild, while ‘Character B‘ (antagonist), who’s background is unknown to most, encourages followers to aid him in his crusade to take reign with an iron-fist.  Story ends in stalemate between Characters A and B, and prompts a sequel


1. ‘Character A’ Followers

2. ‘Character B’ Followers


1. Character A: Protagonist

2. Character B: Antagonsit


1. Character A’s Son, 21yrs old, fighter, Character A’s 2nd cmdr.

2. Character B’s Henchmen, age unknown, prior military, 2nd cmdr.

3. Character A’s Wife, 45yrs, scientist, etc…

4. Character C


1. Character A’s Home: City, State, Street Name, Addr, etc…

2. Character B’s Headquarters, City, State, Surrounding Terrain, etc…


The portions or body of your Outline will change according to the type of article/book you’re writing, but hopefully the example above gives you a good idea of how to get started–And remember. . .Its ‘your‘ Outline, so make in a way that works best for you.  Now, hop to it!  I can’t wait to read the masterpiece that comes from it!  As always, thanks for reading, your support, and please leave a comment, I really enjoy the feedback!

— F. Kenneth Taylor


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