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How detailed are your outlines? Anyone willing to share?
Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:38pm


I've been out of writing since about 2008, and if I don't get a handle on some things it might be another 10 years with me still sitting on the sidelines with a massive case of writer's block.

I'm wondering at the things the active writers do to keep the stories spilling out.

One area where I know I am lacking is in my outlines. When I was an active writer a lot of it was stream of thought. I would wait for a massive jolt of inspiration, and then sit down and turn out a few hundred pages in a couple of binge sessions... then spend a longer period editing...

The problem is that while I can lots of ideas... those sudden binge moments don't happen easy, and they often leave me looking at a jumbled plotless mess. And that is why I just gave up and stopped trying after a few years of stumbling.

I think I need more structure. But I'm not really sure how I should craft my outlines...

So I'd like to ask some people who've managed to 'keep it going' for years and years...

Do you have long complex outlining breaking up scenes in detail? Do you just string together some notes lke "scene begins here, goes there, end like this" and then fill it in when you sit down to write? Or something in between.

Do you use some kind of flowchart software? Or just bullet points on a page, or even short paragraphs?

I would really love to see some 'samples' posted, if anyone is willing. Like... "here is the outline I used for chapter X of my story Y that's on this site, so you can compare that with the final story you got to read"
- As well as some guidance on what led you to using that kind of outline.

If you know of things I could go read to help me... I'd love that too.

I am pretty good at fleshing out my characters... but they too often exist only as ideas in my head until I actually start writing the story... so... for those who make better notes on characters than that... what's your method?

- For the web of relationships, do you have a separate set of notes / outlines, or is it just in there in amongst your story outline?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. I have 5 stories burning to get out of me right now, and it has been driving me nuts because some of them have been fighting to get out since 2003 when I first started erotica (my first 2 stories still remain unpublished and have been revised countless times...).

    • A google Doc outlinetenyari, Wed Nov 15 5:04pm
      Here: For people to copy and work with.
    • I visualize rather than outlineThe Old Maestro, Fri Sep 22 10:57pm
      I don't use an outline. When I conceive a story, I visualize it--picture it as a movie. This helps me: 1) see the character as a real person, 2) ensure that characters interact with each other and... more
    • I'm putting together the outline I intend to use for my story. This might look hyper-organized to some of you, and 'way too barebones' to others. I'm trying to focus it around leaving me a lot of... more
    • A Believer in OutlinesBPClavel, Tue Sep 19 5:44pm
      Hey Tenyari, Iíve been wanting to reply, simply waiting until time allows more than just a very short response. After skimming the other answers, I find myself apparently in the minority. I would... more
      • Re: A Believer in Outlinestenyari, Tue Sep 19 7:47pm
        It looks like almost no one actually does use outlines which surprised me. I had thought I was an outlyer in not having them. I think I would be more like BPClavel if I did resume writing - and the... more
        • Re: A Believer in OutlinesGreatness, Wed Sep 20 9:30am
          I don't write outlines either. My stories just go where they go. Some change where I thought they be and end where I never thought they ever would. The Voice comes to mind. It was never a story of... more
    • I hardly use outlinesdonnylaja, Mon Sep 18 7:34am
      I have a general idea of what the story is, and start writing, once I have the first chapter in mind. I might jot down a few words about things I want to put in so I don't forget them. But mostly I... more
    • Re: How detailed are your outlines? Anyone willing to share?not a politician, Sun Sep 17 5:24pm
      What I tend to do is roll an idea for a story around in my head (possibly make some quick notes if I'm at work) and then jot it down in a .txt as soon as I can. And then I work it out, often changing ... more
    • blitz writingbase, Sun Sep 17 11:28am
      I still practice blitz writing for most of my stories. Unfortunately, these usually lead me to not publishing most of them. I will start with an idea, and let that idea circulate in my head.... more
    • Outlinescheryl, Sat Sep 16 11:46am
      Like Hooked6, I donít really use outlines. I usually start with a character, and develop that person in my head before I start writing. I may take a few notes, but theyíre mostly personality traits.... more
      • WOW - I feel privileged Hooked6, Sat Sep 16 3:21pm
        Cheryl - I am so excited that you shared that bit of formative information on The Milford Sports Academy. That is one of my favorites of yours!! Reading your notes above was like getting inside your... more
        • You do flatter me, sir!cheryl, Sat Sep 16 4:16pm
          Hooked6, I thank you so much for all of your positive feedback over the years. You already know I'm a big fan, and it's so nice that it seems to be reciprocal. Unfortunately, I haven't been writing... more
          • If only . . .Hooked6, Sat Sep 16 8:33pm
            Cheryl wrote: "Between that, working out to keep my back from failing on me, and sleep, I just don't find the time any more!" Well if you are the type that often talks in your sleep I'd be glad to... more
    • OutlinesDormouse, Sat Sep 16 6:41am
      I tend to outline stories in my head whilst on walks in the country. Which might explain why my stories are so short, as I have to be able to keep them in my head, and also why I tend to write more... more
    • Mental picturesEwong, Sat Sep 16 3:50am
      I don't rely on outlines, as I feel them to be creatively stifling, but I do like to have certain scenes bookmarked or otherwise "on paper" so I won't forget something. Usually they're the notions or ... more
    • I never use themHooked6, Fri Sep 15 8:39pm
      Contrary to popular academic thought I never use outlines. Though this method may not work for you (and perhaps a myriad of others) it has worked for me for 20 years of writing erotica. Though I am... more
      • CharactersDormouse, Sat Sep 16 6:44am
        I know what you mean about the characters telling you the story. It's not so much that for me as I let the characters lose in my mind and see what they do. And don't be so sure about professional... more
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