Story Outline Template

Story Outline Template, within the Milanote app

Plan your story outline, plot, scenes, and more

This story outline template is perfect for organizing your story into a basic structure.

Milanote lets you see your story structure in a visual way—just like your wall of index cards, but portable. Easily drag and drop to rearrange the key parts as your story comes to life. It's the perfect companion to your manuscript.

This template is part of our guide on How to plan a novel.

  • Explore ideas
  • Organize visually
  • Share with your team
  • Gather feedback
  • Export to PDF

How to use this template

Whether you’re writing a novel or a screenplay, follow this step-by-step guide to learn the modern process of outlining in Milanote, a free tool used by top creatives.

1. Start with an empty template

The Story Outline template contains empty notes for your ideas and scenes, placeholders for images, video and links.

Empty story outline template
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Create a new board for your outline.

    Create a new board

    Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it.

  2. Choose the Story Outline template.

    Choose a template 

    Each new board gives you the options to start with a beautiful template.

2. Map out the key scenes

Start by laying out the major scenes or events you know so far. These might be the key turning points, locations, or plot twists. Don't worry too much about the order or details yet, just get the main parts out of your head. This is a quick flexible way to brainstorm the centerpieces of your story.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a Column for each key scene.

    Drag a column onto your board

    Name it, then drag any relevant notes or images into your column

3. Add high-level details

Next, add a sentence or a short paragraph for each scene. There are no rules for how much detail to add, do what works best for you. Think about what's being communicated in this scene, the location, and the characters involved. This will help you consider where characters are introduced and how this scene connects with the next one.

Story outline template
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a note to describe the plot points.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left-hand toolbar.

4. Get the sequence right

Seeing your story at this level lets you make connections between themes and concepts you might otherwise miss if you went straight into writing. Re-read your outline so far. Look for scenes that feel out of place. Perhaps your transitions need some tweaking or a character appears without a proper introduction. Highlight areas that need more work and move scenes or plot points around to get the sequence just right.

Adjusting the sequence in your story outline
How to do this in Milanote
  1. Drag plot points around to get the sequence right.

5. Add imagery or video

While imagery probably won't make an appearance in your novel, this is a great technique for kickstarting new ideas. Experiment by adding images or movie clips that relate to your scenes. If you're the type of writer who creates moodboards, now's the time to see if you've already got imagery that could help evoke the feeling you're trying to capture. Try saving images from Google ImagesPinterest, or Milanote's built-in image library.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Use the built-in image library. 

    Use the built-in image library

    Search over 500,000 beautiful photos powered by Unsplash then drag images straight onto your board.

  2. Embed Youtube videos or audio in a board. 

    Embed Youtube videos or audio tracks in a board

    Copy the share link from Youtube, Vimeo, Soundcloud or many other services. Drag a link card onto your board, paste your link and press enter.

You're done!

Now that you've finished a draft outline, you can start writing, confident that your story has a strong foundation. If you're starting a new novel right now, grab the free outline template below to start mapping it out.

Start your Story Outline

Plan your story outline, plot & scenes