Fiction Writing Tips: How to Create Outline and Generate Ideas

When you write a story or a book, it’s only going to be useful for your readers, when you finish it. What I’ve heard from time to time, young aspiring writers have difficulties to finished a writing. I wrote the 3 basic rules to finish a book. One of them is about writing outline.

An outline to me, is like a map. Your writing is like a destination. To go there, to reach your destination, you need a map. In order to make an outline, I always use mindmapping technique. We’ll talk more about that soon.

Before we start, we need to have an idea of what we want to write. Most people want to write because they have something to say. Some big ideas. Some dreams to share. Some love to give. Some tragedies to mend. That’s where the urge of writing come from. You can’t say things like: “I have no idea what to write” – Life is so rich, you can stumble on ideas all the time. Go out, live out loud, talk to strangers, open your heart and be aware of your surroundings. After that, what you need to do is to get organized.

I carry a paper notebook and pen all the time in my bag. In there, I capture and keep my ideas. Specifically when you’re in the process of writing, all kind of things that happen to you in life, suddenly can be a material for your writing. Write everything in that one special notebook, you can check to it later.

Before outlining, I also read a lot of books, especially books that related to the topic of my writing. I read a lot of articles on the internet too. I will stop doing the research when the information started to repeat and I started to forget why am I here in this website.

Write a small notes of your story in an ugly piece of paper. Write down your story title, characters, summary of your main story. Write fast, in such imperfection mode. Just let the words flow and let it out of your brain.

After that, you can use mind map to figure out the problem that kickstart the story, progressing stressful situations for characters, conflicts’ peak and resolutions. The point is, you must know how to end the story. You must know the final destination.

Define the title for your story and put it in the center of your mind map. It will help you focus on what the story needs to reveal.

Create a plot board. Write down small chunk of stories that come up to your brain in several post-it notes, start configure your plot by playing with the ‘scenes’. Move it as you like, this is your story’s route, you can pick the best route to get to your destination. If the conflict has a peak, you want to create hills of stories in the middle. It helps to catch the readers attention and focus to your story.

What I always like to do is discussing my plot with someone that I trust. Could be an editor that is also a friend, or simply my friends who would have some cruel comments for my work. If their suggestions make sense, it will definitely help me to develop the story.

For some ideas, check these resources on building story outlines:

6 Writing Outline Templates

The Art of MindMapping your Novel

Writer’s Plot Board

One final thing, NulisBuku.com, Plot Point and Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy held a writing competition for the second time now. So, join the fun and submit your witing to Tulis Nusantara 2013 writing competition! The total prize is IDR 150,000,000! It was fun to do writing workshops in 12 cities, meet and share with young writers. Now, it’s time to shine! Check @NulisBuku timeline for more information

Happy writing!

Ps: yes I’m writing this blog post as a way to celebrate National Blogger Day. So, Happy Blogger Day!



A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO Storial.co & NulisBuku.com. Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.


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