Writers either love outlines, or they hate them. My experience has been that more often than not, those who swear they dislike outlines are thinking of them in the wrong ways. Outlines are not meant to trap you into preset ideas or sap your creativity before you start the first draft. Outlines are also definitely not meant to be lifeless Roman-numeral lists. To imbue your writing with the full power of outlining, you need to approach the process from a mindset of flexibility and discovery.
At their best, outlines can help you flesh out your most promising story ideas, avoid dead-end plot twists and pursue proper structure. And the greatest part? They save you time and prevent frustration. Sketching out your plot and characters in your first draft can take months of trial and error. Figuring out those same elements in an outline requires a fraction of the time—and then allows you to let loose and have fun in your first draft.
Note: Although this outlining method is one I use myself and highly recommend, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to outline a story. The only requirement is that you find the groove that works for you. Your premise is the basic idea for your story. This is why your outline needs to begin with a tightly crafted premise sentence that can answer the following questions:. Restless farm boy situation Luke Skywalker protagonist wants nothing more than to leave home and become a starfighter pilot, so he can live up to his mysterious father objective.
Armed with a solid premise, you can now begin sketching your ideas for this story. Write a list of everything you already know about your story. Even if you have no idea how these scenes will play out in the story, go ahead and add them to the list. Whenever you encounter an idea that raises questions, highlight it.
Your next step is to address each of the highlighted portions, one by one. Write out your ideas and let your thoughts flow without censoring yourself. Ask yourself questions on the page. Talk to yourself without worrying about punctuation or spelling. Did something in his past cause the disaster? What events have shaped him to make him respond to the disaster in the way he does?
Once you have a basic idea of how your character will be invested in the main story, you can start unearthing the nitty-gritty details of his life with a character interview. Look for settings that will be inherent to your plot. If so, dig a little deeper to find a setting better suited to your plot, theme and characters. Can you reduce this list by combining or eliminating settings? What had become of him he cared not to inquire. But Fernand was mistaken; a man of his disposition never kills himself, for he constantly hopes.
During this time the empire made its last conscription, and every man in France capable of bearing arms rushed to obey the summons of the emperor.
Bathed in tears she wandered about the Catalan village. Sometimes she stood mute and motionless as a statue, looking towards Marseilles, at other times gazing on the sea, and debating as to whether it were not better to cast herself into the abyss of the ocean, and thus end her woes. It was not want of courage that prevented her putting this resolution into execution; but her religious feelings came to her aid and saved her. Caderousse was, like Fernand, enrolled in the army, but, being married and eight years older, he was merely sent to the frontier.
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Morrel paid the expenses of his funeral, and a few small debts the poor old man had contracted. He guessed something uncommon was passing among the living; but he had so long ceased to have any intercourse with the world, that he looked upon himself as dead. The inspector visited, one after another, the cells and dungeons of several of the prisoners, whose good behavior or stupidity recommended them to the clemency of the government.
He inquired how they were fed, and if they had any request to make. The universal response was, that the fare was detestable, and that they wanted to be set free. The inspector asked if they had anything else to ask for. They shook their heads. What could they desire beyond their liberty? The inspector turned smilingly to the governor. Are there any others? Let us see the dungeons. Two soldiers were accordingly sent for, and the inspector descended a stairway, so foul, so humid, so dark, as to be loathsome to sight, smell, and respiration.
Is it not true, Antoine?
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Besides, he is almost mad now, and in another year he will be quite so. He was, as this remark shows, a man full of philanthropy, and in every way fit for his office. He used to weep, he now laughs; he grew thin, he now grows fat. You had better see him, for his madness is amusing.
The soldiers interposed their bayonets, for they thought that he was about to attack the inspector, and the latter recoiled two or three steps. Then, infusing all the humility he possessed into his eyes and voice, he addressed the inspector, and sought to inspire him with pity. What matters really, not only to me, but to officers of justice and the king, is that an innocent man should languish in prison, the victim of an infamous denunciation, to die here cursing his executioners.
Have pity on me, then, and ask for me, not intelligence, but a trial; not pardon, but a verdict—a trial, sir, I ask only for a trial; that, surely, cannot be denied to one who is accused! You must show me the proofs against him. Let me know my crime, and the reason why I was condemned. Uncertainty is worse than all. I should never have the courage to come down again. The first year he offered government a million of francs for his release; the second, two; the third, three; and so on progressively.
He is now in his fifth year of captivity; he will ask to speak to you in private, and offer you five millions.
In the centre of the cell, in a circle traced with a fragment of plaster detached from the wall, sat a man whose tattered garments scarcely covered him. He was drawing in this circle geometrical lines, and seemed as much absorbed in his problem as Archimedes was when the soldier of Marcellus slew him. He did not move at the sound of the door, and continued his calculations until the flash of the torches lighted up with an unwonted glare the sombre walls of his cell; then, raising his head, he perceived with astonishment the number of persons present.
He hastily seized the coverlet of his bed, and wrapped it round him. Could you allow me a few words in private.
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Had not government better profit by it? I will offer six millions, and I will content myself with the rest, if they will only give me my liberty. You refuse me my liberty; God will give it me. Faria replied to this sarcasm with a glance of profound contempt. They went out.
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The turnkey closed the door behind them. He remained in his cell, and this visit only increased the belief in his insanity. Caligula or Nero, those treasure-seekers, those desirers of the impossible, would have accorded to the poor wretch, in exchange for his wealth, the liberty he so earnestly prayed for.
But the kings of modern times, restrained by the limits of mere probability, have neither courage nor desire. They fear the ear that hears their orders, and the eye that scrutinizes their actions. Formerly they believed themselves sprung from Jupiter, and shielded by their birth; but nowadays they are not inviolable. It has always been against the policy of despotic governments to suffer the victims of their persecutions to reappear.
As the Inquisition rarely allowed its victims to be seen with their limbs distorted and their flesh lacerated by torture, so madness is always concealed in its cell, from whence, should it depart, it is conveyed to some gloomy hospital, where the doctor has no thought for man or mind in the mutilated being the jailer delivers to him. This note was in a different hand from the rest, which showed that it had been added since his confinement. The inspector could not contend against this accusation; he simply wrote, Nothing to be done.
This fortnight expired, he decided that the inspector would do nothing until his return to Paris, and that he would not reach there until his circuit was finished, he therefore fixed three months; three months passed away, then six more. At the expiration of a year the governor was transferred; he had obtained charge of the fortress at Ham.
A new governor arrived; it would have been too tedious to acquire the names of the prisoners; he learned their numbers instead.
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God is always the last resource. Unfortunates, who ought to begin with God, do not have any hope in him till they have exhausted all other means of deliverance. He entreated to be allowed to walk about, to have fresh air, books, and writing materials. His requests were not granted, but he went on asking all the same.
He accustomed himself to speaking to the new jailer, although the latter was, if possible, more taciturn than the old one; but still, to speak to a man, even though mute, was something. He now wished to be amongst them, in order to see some other face besides that of his jailer; he sighed for the galleys, with the infamous costume, the chain, and the brand on the shoulder. The galley-slaves breathed the fresh air of heaven, and saw each other. They were very happy. The jailer, though rough and hardened by the constant sight of so much suffering, was yet a man.
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All the pious ideas that had been so long forgotten, returned; he recollected the prayers his mother had taught him, and discovered a new meaning in every word; for in prosperity prayers seem but a mere medley of words, until misfortune comes and the unhappy sufferer first understands the meaning of the sublime language in which he invokes the pity of heaven! He prayed, and prayed aloud, no longer terrified at the sound of his own voice, for he fell into a sort of ecstasy.
Then gloom settled heavily upon him.