Outlining Methods

The Snowflake Method– A systematic method of outlining, this one starts with characters and eventually leads to a spreadsheet list of all of your scenes. (Speaking of which, here’s a Scene List Spreadsheet in Google Drive to use with the article, you can Make a Copy to your own Google Drive, or just plain download it in whatever your Spreadsheet format of choice is.) Here is a video of Randy explaining it.

Libby Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants Method– Libby wrote a whole book about becoming a plotter instead of a pantser, and her methods are pretty impressive. Ultimately I find her to be a variant of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat story beats, but she has some interesting ideas of her own and this one is highly recommended.

Michael Moorcock’s How to Write a Book in 3 Days Method– Is basically a more detailed version of my “Chinese Method“. Moorcock’s approach is to assemble everything you need beforehand, even lists of equipment, characters, places, and random stuff, have a rough outline based on the Lester Dent formula, and then attack your keyboard with the fury of a great typhoon until your book is finished. Fantasy writers should definitely check this one out.

25 Ways to Plot, Plan and Prep Your Story– This should be your first stop in trying to find an outlining style that works for you. While irreverent and profanity laden, Chuck Wendig does a great job of laying out the most common methods of story prep. The only flaw with this otherwise beautiful piece is that his descriptions of the methods are pretty bare-bones, so you’re going to have to go looking for more detailed examples in some cases.

The Phase Method– A unique method where you turn your story into a series of mini-beats and write them up in stream-of-consciousness point-form based around key ideas. It sounds weird, but if you’re a more visual or dialogue-based person, or a poet, this might be a method that could work well for you

Speaking of Mind Mapping, I’ve found two noteworthy approaches to using mind mapping to plan stories. Paul Donovan Campos‘ method and this one from No Wasted Ink. I should note that most mind-mapping methods are more brainstorming and less about organizing, but the No Wasted Ink approach is a step by step one for putting together a solid book foundation.