How To Write the Perfect Outline

Abby Jaquint
5 min readOct 5, 2019

And why you might need it.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I published a novel in high school. A novel where the main dish was the human experience otherwise known as emotions, as well as a little plate of murder on the side.

I did not outline, plan, or draw out this novel. Not a single word of it.

It’s technically a “murder mystery.”

I did not know who the killer was going to be until I was halfway through writing it.

People had already died. And yet.

How Could I Have Improved This Strategy?

It may have worked for me at the time, but it wasn’t practical, and my thoughts were more jumbled up than they needed to be. This is why I now use at least one type of outlining when it comes to planning out my novels and articles.

There is an infinite number of ways you can map out what your next project, but I’ll give you the five methods that I find the most helpful.

1. The Snowflake Method

This method is by far the most popular (at least from what I’ve seen, and from what I remember from old creative writing classes), and is generally what I use when I’m struggling to come up with a longer synopsis or deeper sense of the plot. The process is simple:

  1. Sum up your piece in a single sentence.
  2. Expand that sentence to a paragraph. This will give your piece more depth, and you can start to get into details.
  3. Add your characters to your description. This is where you talk about traits, physical features, and relationships with other characters. Scratch the surface here.
  4. The big synopsis, AKA, summarize your entire plot. The characters, the themes, the B story, and every major moment you can think of for what happens in your piece.
  5. Finish your characters. This is the time to truly add to your character descriptions, creating charts, writing in detail about their specific and individual traits, and coming up with facts and backstory.
  6. Complete the plot synopsis. Fill in the blanks, and jot down every detail of your story. By this point, it should feel like you’re practically writing the piece…
Abby Jaquint

Novelist. 23. I write about writing and mental health. Check me out on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Recommended from Medium