Every journey begins with a single step. The same is true for writers; every story begins with a clear outline.
Experienced storytellers might never actually write an outline, but they’ve likely mentally blocked out the story before they sit down to write.
More junior writers can benefit from going through the exercise. It focuses thinking and improves the creative process. In short, starting with an outline will improve the story overall, and quality content is what gets shared.
What to include in a story outline:
The purpose: Is the primary objective to inform, educate, sell, influence or entertain?
The audience: Who are these people? What do they want to know? What do they need to know? Where do they get information? What content do they tend to share?
What’s the lead? How will the story start? What will grab the reader’s attention? What’s the most interesting aspect of the story?
What questions need answering? Make sure no question is left unanswered.
The approach: Think about the story’s tone and format. Is it factual, serious, whimsical or humorous? Is it narrative, conversational, first person or third person? Is it a news item? A Q&A? An OpEd?
Research: What facts, views, opinions and arguments would add to the story? Which links would add value for readers?
Keywords: Help people find your content by using logical keywords and tags. Don’t overuse them or risk search engine penalties, but be sure to mention these words a couple of times.
Finally: The easy part: tell the story! It should practically write itself, since all the thinking has been done upfront for the outline.
The article was originally posted on Thornley Fallis.
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