Narrative Outline

A Narrative Outline or plan of your report has explanatory sentences inserted at key places:
  • to explain in a declarative style the point of each section; and
  • to explain how each section links to the previous one and to the larger section or the whole report it is part of.

  • Three steps may be needed to arrive at such an outline. First, prepare a standard outline, i.e., one that looks like a table of contents. Then turn it into a nested and connected table of contents as follows:
  • indent subsections inside sections, and sub-subsections inside subsections; and
  • indicate with arrows and annotations how each section or subsection connects with the previous one, and how each connects with the larger whole (including the report) of which it is a part.

  • Finally, insert the explanatory sentences mentioned above, starting with a non-cryptic title that captures the Governing Question for the project.

    Insertion of the explanatory sentences helps you move beyond the preliminary thinking that goes into a standard outline. For some people a standard outline has some value. However, for most writers it does not ensure that, when you write, your ideas and material really will fit your outline and the draft will flow from your “pen” (keyboard). Fit and flow is more likely if you have prepared a Narrative Outline.

    (See Phase G)