After The Step Outline


As Aristotle once said, the writer should first sketch a general outline. And then, fill in the episodes and amplify in detail. 

1. Revise and Revise

  • Lay the pages before you. You can hover over them and see maybe:

Oh, its listless here.

Here's an exciting scene, but it comes out of nowhere. Got to build to that scene better. 

These scenes are just talk. I've got to get some tension or passion in there, or take them out. 

2. A Flow Chart


  • Create a horizontal flow chart of your steps to pick up strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Describe each step with a word or two. Be honest with yourself.

  • Then, with each step, list the scene or scenes that it contains.


  • Look at each scene by itself and give it checks for impact. 

Impact = passion, tension, action, excellent drama or comedy. 

4 checks would be the ultimate. 1 check means that the step just lies there, not really doing anything. 


  • After doing this for the whole outline, start by eliminating or improving on the one-checkers.

Maybe by choosing a better locale. Or using a piece of information that sparks drama or tension. Or adding another character  who would give the scene tension. 

Such additions can help a step dramatically. 


  • Then, try to turn two-check steps into three-checkers. 

  • Sometimes, you might see a continuous run of two-check steps. You can try to break that monotony with adding stronger tension or passion.

  • But also remember that audiences need to rest after a run of high intensity scenes or one explosive scene. 

3. Things to think about

  • First concentration should be on the quality of the drama

  • Every scene is there because of the other (This is the most difficult and important rule)

  • Make sure that conflict is in every scene

  • Also remember to consider the marketplace. Will this be attractive to audiences and those who buy? Can I sell it? 

4. Now You Have New Goals to Achieve in Your Revised Step Outline

  • Here, I can be specific and write in the changes. 

  • (EG)

    Step 1 now has a Step 1-A

Step 25 now has a Step 25-A (Susan and Cliff plan their escape. They decide to chose Idaho.)

25-B (Cliff goes back home to get his old truck. There, he has a last sad scene with his parents to show the love he's giving up. More hero pressure.)

Step 25-C (More Cliff and Susan planning.)

  • Remember that you will be making changes here like taking out scenes and adding new scenes. But for the most part, this step outline will be the road map for the overall story.