Story Outline Template

Embarking on the creative journey of crafting a compelling narrative is as exhilarating as it is daunting. Knowing where to start and how to organize your thoughts can seem overwhelming, but fear not, intrepid wordsmith! Our “Story Outline Template” article will provide you with a meticulously crafted roadmap designed to guide you through the labyrinth of your imagination. This essential tool will not only help streamline your storytelling process, but also illuminate the path to a rich and engaging tale that will leave your readers spellbound. So, let’s dive into the realm of literary alchemy and unlock the secret to transforming your raw ideas into a captivating work of art.


What Is A Story Outline Template?

A “Story Outline Template” is a practical and adaptable framework designed to assist aspiring and seasoned writers alike in organizing their thoughts, ideas, and plotlines into a cohesive and engaging narrative. This structured guide enables you to break down your story into manageable segments, ensuring that your storytelling journey is both enjoyable and efficient. By providing an overview of the key elements that make up a great story, this template empowers you to create a solid foundation for your narrative, as well as identify potential pitfalls and challenges before they become stumbling blocks.

The beauty of a “Story Outline Template” lies in its versatility. Whether you’re penning an intricate fantasy epic, a heart-wrenching romance, or a suspenseful thriller, this template can be tailored to suit your specific needs and genre requirements. It is designed to accommodate various storytelling approaches, from the classic three-act structure to the more intricate hero’s journey.

At its core, a “Story Outline Template” serves as a blueprint for your narrative, helping you to:

  • Define your story’s overarching theme and central message
  • Develop compelling and multidimensional characters
  • Establish a captivating setting and atmosphere
  • Map out the primary plot points and pivotal moments
  • Identify potential subplots and secondary storylines
  • Ensure a balanced pacing and narrative flow
  • Maintain a coherent and logical progression throughout your story
  • Foster a strong connection between your readers and your narrative

Why Is Story Outline Template Important?

  • Clear Direction and Focus

A “Story Outline Template” helps writers maintain a clear direction and focus throughout their narrative, ensuring that their story stays on track and doesn’t meander aimlessly.

  • Streamlined Writing Process

By organizing ideas and plot points in advance, the template allows writers to tackle their story in a more efficient and structured manner, reducing the likelihood of writer’s block and other creative hurdles.

  • Consistent Pacing and Tension

     A well-crafted outline helps writers balance their story’s pacing and    tension, preventing lulls or overly dense sections that could disengage readers.

  • Effective Character Development

Using a template to map out character arcs and interactions allows writers to create consistent, multidimensional characters who grow and evolve throughout the story.

  • Stronger Narrative Structure

An outline template ensures that writers adhere to a solid narrative structure, improving the overall flow and coherence of their story.

  • Seamless Integration of Subplots

By outlining subplots and secondary storylines in advance, writers can seamlessly weave them into the main narrative, enhancing the depth and richness of their story.

  • Easier Revision and Editing

With a comprehensive outline in place, writers can more easily identify areas for improvement, making the revision and editing process smoother and more efficient.

  • Enhanced Creativity

Contrary to popular belief, outlining doesn’t stifle creativity. In fact, having a solid framework to build upon can actually spark new ideas and encourage creative exploration within the established story structure.

  • Greater Confidence in the Writing Process

A “Story Outline Template” provides writers with a roadmap, increasing their confidence in their ability to navigate the challenges of storytelling and ultimately produce a compelling and engaging narrative.

  • Higher Quality Final Product

By addressing potential issues and inconsistencies during the outlining phase, writers can ultimately create a more polished and well-rounded final product, increasing the likelihood of resonating with readers and achieving literary success.

Essential Elements Of The Story Outline Template

  • Premise and Theme

Identify the central idea or concept of your story, as well as the underlying themes and messages you wish to convey through your narrative.

  • Setting and World-Building

Define the time and place in which your story unfolds, and establish any unique rules or features that govern your story’s universe.

  • Main Characters

Create a list of your story’s principal characters, including their names, physical descriptions, backgrounds, motivations, and goals.

  • Character Arcs

Map out the individual character arcs for your main characters, detailing how they will grow, change, or evolve throughout the story.

  • 5. Inciting Incident

Determine the event or circumstance that sets your story in motion and propels your characters into the main narrative.

  • Conflict and Obstacles

Outline the primary conflicts and challenges that your characters will face, both internally and externally, as they pursue their goals.

  • Key Plot Points

Identify the critical moments in your story that propel the narrative forward and have significant impacts on the characters and their goals.

  • Subplots and Secondary Storylines

Develop any subplots or secondary storylines that enrich your narrative and contribute to the overall theme and character development.

  • Climax and Resolution

Determine the story’s climax, where the primary conflict reaches its peak, and the resolution, where the conflict is resolved and loose ends are tied up.

  • Pacing and Scene Structure

Plan the pacing and structure of your scenes to ensure a balanced narrative flow that maintains reader interest and engagement.

  • Narrative Voice and Point of View

Decide on the narrative voice and point of view for your story, whether it be first-person, third-person limited, or third-person omniscient.

  • Revision and Editing Plan

Develop a plan for revising and editing your story, including a timeline for completing drafts and incorporating feedback from beta readers or critique partners.

By incorporating these essential elements into your “Story Outline Template,” you can create a comprehensive and organized framework for your narrative, setting the stage for a captivating and well-structured story that will delight readers and elevate your writing craft.

How To Create A Story Outline Template?

  • Determine Your Story’s Genre and Scope

Identify the genre and scope of your story, as this will influence the elements you include in your outline and help set the tone for your narrative.

  • Brainstorm Ideas and Concepts

Spend time brainstorming ideas, characters, themes, and potential plot points. Don’t be afraid to explore various possibilities before settling on the core elements of your story.

  • Develop a Working Premise

Create a working premise that succinctly conveys your story’s central idea or concept, and use this as a foundation for building your outline.

  • Define Your Main Characters

Establish your primary characters, including their backgrounds, motivations, and goals. Ensure that their traits and objectives align with your story’s theme and central conflict.

  • Plan Your Setting and World-Building

Design the world in which your story takes place, including any unique rules, features, or cultural aspects that will impact your narrative and characters.

  • Identify Key Plot Points

Determine the significant events and milestones that will make up your story’s structure, including the inciting incident, turning points, climax, and resolution.

  • Map Out Character Arcs

Plan how your main characters will evolve throughout the story, detailing the changes they will undergo and the challenges they will face along the way.

  • Develop Subplots and Secondary Storylines

Create any subplots or secondary storylines that will enhance your main narrative and contribute to your story’s theme or character development.

  • Organize Scenes and Pacing

Arrange your key plot points, character arcs, and subplots into a sequence of scenes, ensuring that the pacing and flow of your story remains consistent and engaging.

  • Choose Your Narrative Voice and Point of View

Decide on the narrative voice and point of view that best suits your story, and make note of any stylistic choices that will impact your storytelling approach.

  • Revise and Refine Your Outline

Review your completed “Story Outline Template” and make any necessary revisions to ensure that all elements are cohesive, logical, and contribute to your overarching narrative.

  • Seek Feedback and Adjust Accordingly

Share your outline with trusted critique partners or beta readers, incorporating their feedback and making adjustments as needed to further refine your story’s structure and direction.

By following these steps to create a “Story Outline Template,” you’ll have a comprehensive framework that will not only streamline your writing process but also help you produce a captivating and well-structured narrative that resonates with readers and showcases your storytelling prowess.

Types of story outline template

There are various story outline templates that cater to different writing styles and preferences. Each type offers a unique approach to organizing your narrative and can be adapted to suit your specific story requirements. Here are some popular types of story outline templates to consider:

  • The Three-Act Structure

The Three-Act Structure is a classic approach to organizing a story, dividing it into three distinct sections: Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. Each act serves a particular purpose in the narrative, ensuring a balanced and coherent progression from beginning to end.

  • The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is a more intricate outline template inspired by Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. This template guides you through the various stages of a hero’s transformational journey, encompassing elements like the call to adventure, trials, and the eventual return home.

  • The Snowflake Method

The Snowflake Method, developed by Randy Ingermanson, focuses on starting with a simple, one-sentence premise and gradually expanding upon it until you have a comprehensive outline. This method allows writers to build their story incrementally, adding layers of complexity as they progress.

  • The Save the Cat Beat Sheet

Based on Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat screenwriting method, this template breaks down your story into 15 distinct “beats” or plot points. The Save the Cat Beat Sheet is particularly useful for writers seeking a more detailed and structured approach to outlining.

  • The Seven-Point Story Structure

The Seven-Point Story Structure, popularized by author Dan Wells, focuses on seven key plot points that drive a story’s narrative. This template emphasizes the importance of story stakes, character development, and resolution, providing a compact yet effective framework for outlining.

  • The Chapter-by-Chapter Outline

For writers who prefer a more granular approach, the Chapter-by-Chapter Outline breaks down your story into individual chapters. This method allows you to plan the events, character moments, and pacing of each chapter, ensuring a comprehensive and well-structured narrative.

  • The Character-Driven Outline

The Character-Driven Outline places greater emphasis on character development, motivations, and relationships. This template is ideal for writers who prioritize character-driven narratives and want to ensure that their characters’ growth and interactions are at the heart of their story.

  • The Synopsis Outline

The Synopsis Outline is a condensed version of your story that highlights its key elements, including the main characters, conflicts, and resolution. This template is useful for writers who prefer a more concise and high-level approach to outlining, as well as for crafting a synopsis to pitch to agents or publishers.


Can I use multiple outline templates for a single story?

Yes, you can definitely use multiple outline templates for a single story if you find that doing so enhances your understanding and organization of your narrative. Some writers may find it helpful to combine elements from different templates or use one template for the main plot and another for subplots or character arcs.

How do I choose the right story outline template for my project?

Choosing the right template for your project depends on your personal writing style, the genre and scope of your story, and your preferred level of detail in planning. Experiment with different types of templates and consider which one best aligns with your creative process, helps you maintain focus, and contributes to a well-structured and engaging narrative.

Can I modify a story outline template to suit my needs?

Absolutely! Story outline templates are meant to serve as a starting point and can be customized to fit your specific needs and preferences. Feel free to adjust, combine, or modify templates as needed to create a tailored framework that supports your creative process and storytelling goals.

Do I have to stick to my story outline once I start writing?

While having an outline can provide valuable guidance and structure, it’s important to remember that your story can evolve as you write. If you find that your story is naturally progressing in a different direction or that new ideas emerge as you write, don’t hesitate to revise your outline to accommodate these changes. Flexibility is key when it comes to storytelling, and it’s essential to allow your narrative to grow organically.

Can I skip using a story outline template if I prefer to write “by the seat of my pants”?

Some writers thrive in a more spontaneous writing process, often referred to as “pantsing” or writing “by the seat of their pants.” If this approach works for you, it’s perfectly fine to skip using a story outline template. However, keep in mind that even a loose, high-level outline can help you maintain focus and provide direction as you write. Consider experimenting with different levels of outlining to find the right balance that supports your creative process without stifling your spontaneity.

Can a story outline template help me overcome writer’s block?

Using a story outline template can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing writer’s block, as it provides a roadmap for your narrative and helps you visualize the progression of your story. However, if you do encounter writer’s block, referring back to your outline can help you regain focus and remind you of your story’s direction, potentially inspiring you to push past the block and continue writing. 


In conclusion, a well-crafted “Story Outline Template” is an invaluable tool for writers of all experience levels and genres. By providing a structured framework for organizing your ideas, plot points, and character development, this template helps streamline your creative process and ensures a well-paced, cohesive, and engaging narrative. With various types of templates available, you can find the perfect approach that aligns with your personal writing style and storytelling goals. Embrace the power of a “Story Outline Template” to transform your imaginative ideas into a captivating and polished masterpiece, setting the stage for literary success and a rewarding writing journey.