Stephen J. Cannell: How to write an outline

An ongoing debate between writers is whether to use an outline or not. From what I’ve posted before, my preference should be clear. This is what Stephen has to say about it.

After listening to Stephen’s process, I have to agree. Stephen began his career as a writer for television, a medium that requires a defined structure. Television stories are told in a finite amount of time. Therefore, planning is vital.

Making the transition from screenplays to novels, I have found structure and planning really helps solidify the story and eliminate logic flaws. That doesn’t mean I have to adhere to the outline one-hundred percent all the way. Sometimes my characters will pull me off the path for a while. That’s okay, just as long as I get back on the path before I get lost.

So yeah, I’m a firm believer in outlines.

More from Stephen J. Cannell over at Emmy TV Legends.

Since 1992, Lee has worked within the visual and dramatic arts landscape as a graphic designer, illustrator, visual effects artist, screenwriter and author.

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