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How to Write a Narrative Outline for Creative Writing

A narrative outline is a guide that gives you the skeleton of a story, presenting the main beats and events in the order they will occur in the text. It can be useful both to beginners and seasoned writers who are looking to organize their writing process.

If you’re looking to write a book, essay, or short story, then this article will help you develop an outline that guides your writing process. We’ll cover everything from setting the scene to structuring the storyline and following the natural flow of events.

The Basics Of A Narrative Outline

The very first thing you need to know about narrative outlines is that they are not storyboards. A storyboard is a visual outline that shows you all the beats, scenes, and events that will occur in the story. A narrative outline is a text-based guide that helps you make sense of all the visuals in your head and puts them into text so you can follow along as you write.

The major difference between the two is that a storyboard is designed to be used as a reference during the writing process. It will help you keep track of what’s going on in the story, but you won’t necessarily need to follow it word for word as you write. A narrative outline, on the other hand, is a guide that you should follow implicitly as you write. You don’t need to set it in stone, but you should keep in mind what it is that you are trying to accomplish as you write.

Where Do I Start?

It is always best to begin with the ending when developing an outline. You want to start by writing the final scene that will bring the story to its conclusion. Once you’ve got that down, you can move to the next step and start defining the more specific details of that scene. You don’t want to jump around like mad, trying to fit everything in as you go along. Make sure that you’ve got everything straight in your head before you start writing and create a list of all the essential ingredients that will occur in the scene. Once you’ve got that down, you can start to flesh out the scene in more detail and add in the supporting details that will make it come alive.

How Do I End It?

The ending of your narrative is often the most difficult part of writing. You’ve had the entire story in your head for a while now, and the moment of truth is finally here. The ending of your story needs to be perfect, and this is where most writers trip up. They think that they should start at the beginning and work their way to the end, but this is rarely the case. You want to begin by writing the ending and then work your way backwards to the beginning. When you are finished with the ending, you can go back and rework the beginning to make it match up with the second half of the story.

What’s The Next Step?

After you’ve written your ending, it’s time to move on to the next step and continue developing your narrative outline. You’ve decided that your story is going to be a romance, and now you need to figure out what happens next. In narrative writing, this is called the turning point. The turning point is the event, scene, or situation that shifts the course of your story. It can be something minor—like one of the main characters getting a phone call or receiving an unexpected piece of good news—or it can be a big event—like someone walking in on the main character as they are having sex or the character getting sick or injured. The key is that it must be something that occurs at a different point in time than the beginning of the story. Once you’ve got the turning point figured out, take some time to study how the present moment connects to the rest of your story. It can help you discover unforeseen plot twists and turns that would have been difficult to foresee at the beginning of the project.

Putting It All Together

With all that jargon out of the way, let’s get back to the fun part: putting it all together. The whole point of this exercise is to take all your notes and everything you’ve written down and organized and turn it into an outline that lays out your entire story in a concise and easy-to-follow manner. It should be a fairly short and sweet outline, not more than two or three pages long. You want to keep it simple and easy to follow, because you’ll be referring to it often as you write.

You’re going to use a combination of narrative planning software (like the one at and a simple Google doc to put together your narrative outline. The software will make creating the outline super easy, and the Google doc will help you keep everything organized as you write. When you’re finished, you can publish your outline and share it with your writing team. They can offer suggestions and ideas as you continue to develop the story, as well as give you a fresh set of eyes to view your work from a different perspective.

Summing It Up

The concept of a narrative outline is simple: write down everything you know about your story so far, putting it in the proper order as you go along. It’s a good idea to write down the most basic information about your story first—such as the main character’s name, how you’ll begin the story, and what the ending will be. From there, you can flesh out the rest of the details about the story, including the secondary characters, setting, and so on. Once you’ve got everything down on paper, you can follow it easily as you write.

Writing a novel is a daunting task, and getting the ending right is often the most difficult part of the whole process. A narrative outline can help you figure out the shape of your story and what happens next. If you’re looking for a simple way to plan your novel, or if you’re just looking to organize your ideas and notes, then this may be an option for you.