Outlining a story? What a novel idea! Literally, if you’re writing a novel or short story you may want to consider outlining it first. There are the conventional ways of outlining: free writing, visual maps, the snowflake method, etc. Then there are the unconventional ways for those who don’t find outlining via pen and paper to be helpful. Try out the following methods and see where they take you:
Use voice recording
A voice recorder will allow the ideas to roll right off your tongue and into something malleable. The Stream of Conciousness way of speaking is similar to free writing and is available everywhere as long as you have a phone, laptop, or voice recorder on your person. Perhaps you’re working on a scene with a lot of dialogue? Read aloud your conversation and you’re ear will pick up on any mistakes that you’ve might have made. Don’t have a voice recorder and can’t afford one? Check out this online voice recorder! Also, don’t forget, most smartphones come with a voice recorder.
Storyboarding is an outlining process of drawing out scenes from your story. Storyboarding is a powerful method because you’re able to visually see what’s going on: what are your characters doing, the setting, the placement of characters, etc. Draw out your story even if you’re not a great artist. Stick figures and shapes will do just fine. Or you can use Storyboardthat, a free storyboard creator.
If you have Microsoft Office, then you most likely have Onenote, though many of you probably have never used it. It came with the pack but remained forgotten. At least, that was my experience. Over the years though, I discovered that Onenote is not only a perfect tool for taking notes but for outlining stories. You can create a new notebook for the novel you’re working on. Within each notebook, you can break down different parts of your story into tabs so you can outline chapter by chapter or however you deem fit. The best part is that you can incorporate the first two methods mentioned above into Onenote. You can record audio and clip your storyboarding into your tabs. Don’t have Onenote and can’t afford it? Use Google Drive instead which is free!
These are but a few ideas to work with when outlining a story. Find one that works for you! If you’re interested in more conventional ways to outline, check out Lit Reactor’s article, 8 Ways to Outline a Novel. You can even incorporate these styles into the different mediums mentioned above for a truly innovative way to outline.