Do you use out­lin­ing much in your writ­ing, or oth­er plan­ning like index cards?

Per­son­al­ly, I hate it, and since most of what I’ve been writ­ing is short pieces it’s not of much use. I also don’t find it all that nec­es­sary for long pieces where I already know the begin­ning and the end and need to fill in the middle.

But if I’m actu­al­ly going to get off my rear and write a ‘big con’ nov­el, I absolute­ly have to have some kind of writ­ten plan ahead of time, or I’m nev­er going to be able to keep things straight — par­tic­u­lar­ly since the read­er may not always be privy to exact­ly what’s happening.

Scriven­er will help with this, I think. But out­lin­ing is some­thing I nor­mal­ly asso­ciate with non­fic­tion projects.


  • I’ve found that out­lin­ing’s pret­ty much vital if I’m going beyond a two or three page thing. In most cas­es, it’s just me writ­ing plot points with “AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?” between them. I also do set­ting write-ups, char­ac­ter overviews and things of that stripe. Lots of pre-work, lots of stuff that’s pret­ty much lim­ber­ing my fin­gers before I start to play.

  • Ms. Grue wrote:

    Have you looked at SAVE THE CAT for his out­lin­ing method? Grant­ed, it’s work­ing with­in a par­tic­u­lar and some­what stan­dard­ized sto­ry for­mat, but the ‘cork­board’ method — which Scriven­er adopts — is an inter­est­ing way to han­dle it.

  • I seem to have enough for a para­graph (often just a short para­graph), so some amount of out­lin­ing might help me ask the right ques­tions and not just keep com­ing up with entries for a com­mon­place book.

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