Friday, September 10, 2010

Outlining Short Stories

Usually my method for writing short stories is to allow an idea to rattle around in my mind for a while and to then start typing and see what happens. With my latest short story that I’m working on, I let the idea rattle around, and the idea led me to create an outline, something I’ve only used in writing longer works in the past.

A short story outline for me is a bulleted list of scenes. I’ll mention the basics of what’s happening, enough to trigger my memories about the scenes. In one case, I filled in a little dialogue because there was something I could hear two characters saying, and I didn’t want to forget it.

The outline is just a guide; the story goes where it wants to go as it gains strength, moving from an idea to a narrative plot with dynamic characters. I like this aspect of outlining, that the preconceived notions do not set the final course but merely guide the idea of going from Point A to Point B.

Outlining isn’t necessarily something I plan on doing with every story, but I like where it’s taken me with the current project. Whether or not it proves to be a great help will only be determined in the weeks and months ahead. So far, I’m glad I tried it.

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