How I Outline My Stories

I specifically didn’t want to do a “How to”-article as I know there are about as many ways of outlining as there are writers. Rather, I would like to show you how I outline stories (or novels) – maybe it will help you, who knows!

My main way of outlining makes use of a macro outline and a micro outline.

Macro Outline

A fancy name for my “big outline”; it is the first of the outlines that I do for a story. Instead of going into a lot of detail about what I am going to put in the story, I only list the scenes and the main arc. This outline can also be a bit vague, as that will be fixed in the micro outline.

Micro Outline

In the micro outline I zoom in on the scenes and outline only a specific scene – this includes details as to what will happen in that scene, bits of dialogue I want to include, and may even contain notes as to how some of the details will come into play later in the story. I also make side notes of the different promises I make to the reader in order for me to remember them and be able to fulfil them in due time.

But sometimes…

Sometimes, however, specifically when it comes to micro or flash fiction, I would still rather just pants the story. I very seldom will sit and do a whole outline; usually it’s just one or two bullet points, if that.


By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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