resources for outlining a story?

Alright, I am usually a pantser and wrote my first draft on a whim, but I’m ready to start getting serious about the second draft of my book and want to actually organize my ideas for it before writing so I have a clearer idea of what direction I am taking the story. That means making an outline, or storyboard, or whatever you people that are plotsers instead of pantsers call it. I’ve never done this before, so I was wondering what sorts of free resources are out there to help with this.

How do you normally plan out your plot structure for a story? Do you use a website? Do you draw up something on paper? What format do you use? What works best for you? Please show me your ways so I can actually get this second draft done in a less chaotic manner than my first draft.


Oh phew there are usually different ways I outline a book, it all depends on the ‘vibes’ of the book.

My outlining started in Google Docs, where I made a table of chapternumbers X 5 rows. The rows had the chapter name, words, what happens, why that happens, important notes for me for each chapter. It gives me a good outlook for each chapter as I really went in depth with this sort of outline.

At one point I went even crazier for a book and for each chapter in google docs I wrote a scene by scene format in each chapter and the word count it should approximately happen in

However I started to get lazy and only wrote what i wanted in each chapter to happen and then the word count…

Now I use scrivener and just have a folder for each chapter and write a detailed explanation for what i want to happen in each chapter


ah well, i’m a plantser so i’m not the most organized but i do outline. if it’s a story i haven’t written before then i do one arc at a time and just jot down the bare bones plot-relevant points, ex
° arc 1

  • kitten is born
  • kitten frolics, unaware of the tragedies of life
  • a coyote attacks the kitten’s family
  • kitten escapes into the human world where things are Difficult

and when i finish writing arc 1 then i outline arc 2, and so on until the story is finished. it’s very simplistic but i’m usually coming at these stories with ideas of endings and scenes i want to happen, and i just need a base structure to pin things around to make a coherent story.

if i’m making an outline for a story that i’ve already written and need to re-write (cough becauseitstrash cough) then i work through the entire story at once since i’m not as worried about :sparkles: stifling my creative juices or whatever :sparkles:, and i want to see the whole thing in order to pick it apart better.

it’s not the most reliable or detailed outlining method but it works for me.

and aside from the outline itself i also keep a lot of notes. character files, worldbuilding files, general idea-stuffs.


Last night I messed around on Hiveworld to try and get some of my ideas organized and that helped a bit, but I’m more of a visual person, so I’m wondering if there’s a better tool out there for me that has some kind of timeline creator or something that gives a visual aid for the order of events. Especially because I have two plot lines, from two different character’s point of view, happening simultaneously, that will eventually converge when the two characters meet.

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I’m a mix of a planner and pantser. It really depends on the story for me. I like knowing where I’m going, but I also don’t stick to plans very well. So outlining has always been a struggle of mine because of that haha.

But in regards to visually plotting a story, there are some software that do that. It might be worth checking out project management software. I’ve used and enjoyed yWriter before. It’s not a pretty software, but it’s really useful and easy to figure out and it’s free. I think it has a timeline feature too. I’ve heard of Scrite and WorkFlowy too, but never used them. They’re both free or have free options as well.

A way I’ve done it before that worked for one of my stories was using sticky notes. Something kind of like this:

You can move them around, color code them, write down scenes and what act they belong in, etc. I had mine all stuck to my closet door lol. If it’s a long, complex story it might be tough to organize, but as long as you stay organized with it I’m sure it’ll work fine.

You could also try out virtual sticky note boards too. Like Pinup. I’ve used it before and it works well.

As for what I normally do, I like to use some kind of beat sheet. Something vague to keep me on track while also telling me where I should be plot-wise in my story. This is my favorite one: 24 Chapter Plot Outline - Google Docs

So I’ll use a beat sheet and fill it out as I discover-write my story and come up with ideas. It helps me organize my thoughts and also helps me write out of order, which I’ve been doing more and more lately. I’ve only ever done one successful second draft, though, so I’m not sure if a beat sheet like this would be helpful for one. It might be interesting to look at though and compare your story structure to.

Hopefully something here was helpful ^^ have a great day


NaNoWriMo has some outline templates…

…or you might want to watch Jenna make a post-it note outline like Tori mentioned. Even if you don’t use this method, the video’s funny, at least to me. ☜(ˆ▿ˆc)


Hey there,

Your thread looks like it’s better suited to #all-writing:writing-resources, so I’ve gone ahead and moved it there for you.

Mari :coolpineapple:

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