A Plot Outline for Short Stories


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Vision 71

 

A Plot Outline for Short Stories

By

Suzan L. Wiener

Copyright © 2013, Suzan L. Wiener, All Rights Reserved

 

Every authority on writing tells you to plot a short story, but no one seems to make an outline that a beginning writer can follow. An experienced writer will also find it invaluable to outline his/her short story to know where he/she is going with it and won't wind up by being frustrated.

 

So many authors say, "My short story started out well, but I couldn't finish it." It is simple once you get the hang of it and will save a lot of time, effort and frustration. It will also help you not to leave a story unfinished. Too many writers get to the end of a story and realize they have nowhere to go with it.

 

This format below should help you to increase sales. I know it has for me. I use it each time I write a short story. I find it helps me to keep the momentum up throughout. It is an especially invaluable tool for the beginning writer. It is definitely not a crutch, but a means of being organized and knowing what your beginning, middle and end of your story is. Each section will be clear to you even before you write your first paragraph.

 

Major characters (Protagonist, Antagonist)

 

A protagonist is the main character in a short story. He/She is the hero and needs to be clearly defined as does the antagonist. An antagonist is the character against the protagonist or hero of a short story. Make the interaction between these two main characters exciting, realistic and challenging.

 

Physical description (examples: name, color of eyes, hair, stature, etc.) Descriptions are quite important. It enables the reader to know and more importantly care about your characters. If a reader doesn't care about your characters, he will not bother to read your work and go onto another character whose story is more riveting.

 

Traits (examples: cheerful, sullen, etc.)

 

Minor characters (not necessary to be as detailed as major characters)

 

You will need a few to make the story more interesting and be interactive with your main character or antagonist.

 

Complications (each complication should move the story forward)

 

Subplot (if any)

 

A subplot isn't always necessary, unless your story is long, then it would definitely help move it along. The reader will want to read it to see what happens throughout. Make it a page-turner.

 

Crisis (turning point)

 

Definition: A crucial or deciding point or situation. It is a turning point of the story.

 

This is the crux of your story and what happens here has to be believable and credible, so the reader isn't disappointed with the outcome.

 

Resolution (end of story)

 

Definition: It is a course of action which is determined or decided on. Here is the part where you want your reader to really care about what has occurred to everyone in your story and you will if you make it exciting and interesting. The end of a story is too often a let-down for readers because the writer hasn't done enough of an outline to know exactly where the story was going, unfortunately.

 

Not every piece of information you list in your outline will be used, but it will give you a better idea of your characters and how your story will end.