An outline for a story, whether it be a one-shot or a serialised epic, needs a strong foundation. The building blocks that will become your comic must be able to stand firm on the themes, concepts, story beats and character moments explored in your outline. “I need an outline?” you might ask? Having written by the seat of my pants and created a story that has been detailed right up until the ending I can assure you the latter is, in the end, easy to write to because the ideas are all there. So today I’ll be taking you through some tips on creating a strong and engaging outline.
Start with a brainstorm
When inspiration hits you, it’s a good idea to strike while the iron is hot. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind be that conversations, plot points, twists, conflicts, romance, eldritch abominations, whatever is in that brain of yours, get it out and down on the page. Don’t worry so much about the order or formatting, or handwriting for that matter. This is your opportunity to let the creativity flow.
Refine your ideas by writing down key points using the brainstorm as a base
Not every idea will be gold but there’s a good chance that, with a bit of spit polish, a few of them will be glittering jewels. Concentrate on ideas that move the plot along. These can be inciting incidents, plot twists, snarky conversations or fluttering first kisses; if it forwards the plot forward write it down. You can expand those points by writing a sentence or two about them, thus test running the idea without getting too bogged down in the details.
plug the holes
As you go along you’re bound to notice gaps. These are your are plot holes. This would be a good time to take a step back, maybe for a day or two (or even a week) and let your mind work in the background and come back with fresh eyes. Write out any ideas that occur to you. If they don’t work, toss em. Do they fit well? Then you’ve filled in the gap.
Write down your outline
Now it’s time to pace your story in either chapters, issues or episodes. Whatever method you prefer, divide your story up. It’s important to consider the emotional momentum throughout your outline as that will retain the reader’s engagement. This is also a good time to go back to your thought dump and see if any of the ideas there fit into your outline. Got some good lines of dialog? Figure out where those might fit. Wanna include that cool sword fight? Slip that in too. This will help you flesh out the details now before you start working on your story.
Cut the fat
Once you’re happy with it, time to get out the scissors. Try and cut 10-15% away. Have a scene that is falling flat? Get rid of it. Is there a named character who turns up only once? Cut them out. Make your outline a lean, mean plot machine. And remember, you’ll be doing this process throughout the comic making process.
How often do you use outlines for your stories? Do you struggle to write outlines? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!
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Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Jan. 15, 2021
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