Workshop > Templated
Oct 20


These types of outlines are great for when you're struggling with how to formulate your story. They give you a bit of a template for what needs to be included, and helps to ensure that your story has all the parts it needs. Some writers may find these styles too constricting, while others find the structure to be liberating--giving you more freedom to focus on the content as a way to set your story apart.

This method of pre-writing is useful for organizing a story that hasn’t been fully developed yet. One of those stories where you know you have something, but you’re not completely sure what, yet.

This is another method that involves organizing and expanding at the same time. This method helps to make sure that your story has a dynamic plot-structure, and follows the basic three-act structure. Basically, you want to create a main conflict, with action that builds up to a climax, and ends with a resolution. This is a very simple description of a story-line, and can help writers to scaffold the ideas they have onto a concrete structure.

You may want to create more stringent guidelines for your outline--perhaps you want to include the plotlines of each character for each act, or maybe you emphasize a sub-conflict in each act. That depends on the writer, and, ultimately, the story. If you decide to follow the three-act structure, you may want to keep going with this playlist after.


This method is somewhat more specialized than many of the others, and lends itself well to a certain type of story--namely, the Hero Story.

While this may seem restrictive, there are many stories that follow this basic format--and they don’t all end up sounding the same either!

The basic structure of this model is three parts. Part one, the hero receives some sort of call-to-action but refuses--“I’m not in that business anymore…” In part two, the hero finds motivation and undergoes a series of trials--training montage! In the third part, the hero triumphs over evil and returns to the life he or she used to lead--or something close to it.

This is a great model to expand from, if all you have so far is the basis for your hero story. And remember, a hero story doesn’t have to be a cliche!


This model is similar to the hero’s journey, and the three-act structure. It gives the writer some structure to guide their organization, but leaves the specifics up to the writer. If you want one section to be longer or shorter, that’s up to you. You can also skip over large sections with just a quick note, that will be expanded upon later. But the underlying goal is to make note of the over-arching sections of your story.

This model aims at creating an exposition or introduction (setting the stage); rising action, or development of conflict; climax (where the conflict comes to boiling-over point); falling action (the response to this conflict); and denouement (the resolution and tying up of loose ends).

With these sections accounted for, you have a pretty good idea of how your story is going to fit together, and you can add more details as you go.
Check out what Kurt Vonnegut has to say about the Shapes of Stories.

Choose one of these prewriting styles and launch right in. There is no right or wrong way to write an outline, or a prewrite. These are just guides to get you going in one direction or another. Maybe you find that taking pieces of one and ideas from another are the best fit for you. Or maybe you find it helpful to start with a particular type and then evolve into another. That's the great thing about prewriting. It's just for you. Do whatever makes your writing process easier and more organized--for you!