Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

I don't outline/plan in detail on a chapter by chapter basis. I have to draw the line there.

I did a workshop where the goal was to outline a chapter to a work in progress. And the outline was done in a way where we even had to write out the dialogue, so really the only thing we had to do was just write the narration.

When it came time to write the chapter, I change everything I could about what I had planned. At the time, I was more of a discovery writer than I am now. And that detailed of an outline sapped all the fun I could have. And even someone who tends to plan her novels a lot more than the past, that's still to much. I still have to leave something for me to discover and explore.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

I don't think I even understand how to do that.

I have been a gamemaster for 40 years.

I have a plotline that I have decided on, I know the beginning and the end, and I know all the high points that have to be hit in the story.
All I decide for the chapter is what part is important. and then I start chronicling the character's journey to and from that point and then stop when I feel it is done, trying to tag it around 3000 words per chapter, and end each chapter at a natural slow spot or cliffhanger.

Kind of like running a gaming session, except that my 'players' don't go screwing up my game plan.

I have notes, where I keep track of important bits I have to remember like the character sheet, the names of the characters, and plot developments that have to be dealt with at some point, and it's a couple of pages long, but as far as an 'outline'? Never mastered that skill.

After the chapter is done, I let my wife proofread it and tell me if some parts are unclear or should be reworded, and tweak it a little here and there, and then just try to get to the end of the story. She's been playing in my games for the last 25 years, and knows when I boof a plot element badly or miss an obvious link.

Frankly I have no idea if it works or not, but it seems to entertain people. It also helps that I created my 'world' and it's politics, maps, conflicts, and overarching plot elements in the 90's and have been running games on it for decades. Maybe those count as outlines since I use them heavily?

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

I have extremely detailed episode-by-episode summaries that essentially act as first drafts. Every line and action is detailed.

It sounds weird, but there's a reason why I do things this way. First, it allows me to get the episode down without having to care about writing prose. And second, when it comes time to actually write, I can fast track everything and only focus on the prose since everything else is done. I still only get two episodes a month done, but we're now talking around 30,000 words monthly.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

outline? uh, i got one in my head

for every chapter, i know what beats i need to hit and the characters i need, then i write. however, there are times where i decide to alter the structure while writing because it makes better logical, in-world sense than the current structure i have

i have enough structure to fill in the blank, but it's flexible enough to allow for that sort of change without it becoming a hassle 

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

Eh, sort of?  There's a file in Scrivener called "BigFatPlot" where the general direction of things goes.  I cross off things as they get storyfied.  Add new ones.  Drop some stuff.  

It would probably look like drunken ramblings crossed with stoner logic.  "Make enemies badder.  More explosions needed in chapter 27.  Don't make subdude sound like a wuss.  Catgirls are not for fan service.  More twisty plot/subplot madness, main storyline needs suspense.  MC not badass enough, fix his derp."  

Then there's the tech notes on nanites, field theory, drive theory, faster than light communications, hacking, gene splicing, and other stuff.  Monsters get their own rules so they don't just act like dumb mooks all the time.  Motivations tab is mostly barren because its so far just the one dude.

It's less an outline than a cheat sheet.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

Starting out? Very vague. Usually 1 quick sentence per chapter/scene. 
Once I get writing, I block out the pages. 1-3 quick sentences per paragraph. But I only do this for the chapters I'm about to write. I don't go further.
Then I refine and finesse. A really quick way to write that gives you a lot of wiggle room to grow for when your characters come to life and take over. 

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

I don't outline my chapters, but I do make like 300 word character dossiers so I don't forget things. I write a bunch of backlog, then write a different book, then come back for more backlog to keep my releases consistent, and it can be really super hard to remember who has what physical description and what magic ability and so on, when it's been 2 months and I had my brain writing about space marines instead of wizards.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

It's so cool reading how everyone goes about plotting/outlining their stories. For me, it used to be a sort of vague-idea-in-mind thing where I'd just write and I knew I was writing towards specific plot points, but that was that. Lately, though, I've started making lists of very to-the-point plot points (as in, 1-2 short sentences) with the key plot events. Usually, each of them becomes 1 chapter, but if I need to, I'll split one into two or more chapters as needed or add connecting chapters in between.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

Depends on the work. For my current serial I'm content with having a longer length and so chapters generally exist to contain usually 1 to 2 scenes. I have a plan for the general shape of the story but I don't hammer things down until I need to.

That said, I try to keep updated documents with things like items they got, powers, and so on. If did this again, I'd also make a bigger list that is 'what conversations and info did I divulge chapter by chapter' because I have to re-read things pretty often.

I have a tighter story planned where I want to make sure things everything is in place before I start writing, with a lot of lying and backstabbing and a main character who gets into deeper and deeper trouble and barely manages to get out, which I'm going to plan down to outlining every chapter.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

I’m currently experimenting.  To maintain the writing pace required for daily updates and still have a coherent story, I’m currently going with a couple hundred words of notes per chapter, backed up by arc, volume, and book outlined and a three-pass/two-edits drafting process with two months between first draft and chapter upload.

I’m honestly hoping this turns out to be overkill, but I am a bit of a perfectionist.

For non-serial, trade published works, I do a lot looser outlines if I have one at all.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

I don't do an outline. 

I do brainstorming sessions. I do a written down brainstorm of all my thoughts as they come about how the book is going to play out (or a specific section of the book or a specific plot thread, or whatever it is I'm working on). It's usually a few pages of stream of concious thought and then a vague rundown at the end of the plot points I've decided. I run that session until I'm satisfied that I know what I'm going to do, and then I start writing.

When I need to do another one, I do another one. 

The first book took 15 sessions (13 fully fleshed out, 2 brief ones), and that was for 90 chapters.

Re: How detailed is your chapter outline?

Thank you for posting this question! I was also wondering how my outlining compares to others! And thank you all for sharing. 
Here is what I did for my new fiction:
1. Started with the whole story structure thingie; 
- Overall structure and outline (main quest)
- Write out the main CONFLICT AND MOTIVATIONS at the very start of your outlining (this is key so that you are not feeling around in the dark when you are starting a new fiction; early promise of conflict and motivation is what will keep the readers)
- External and internal journey of each characters (epic story with five main and several many side characters)
- Adding subplots as I am writing more and more chapters
2. Dividing each main episode into a block of 4-6 chapters (I love the episode thing)
3. Each chapter- 1.5 to 2 K
4. Chapter Structure and Outline
- Always write it on my tablet with a stylus (emulates writing on paper that helps with flow of thoughts)
- I try to sprint write (again helps with flow)
- Update: Forgot to add that at the very top, I write out what the chapter purpose would be internal and external journey wise, and what POV would be (I do third person limited). This helps keep the chapter focused and not stray. 
- Definitely write out main dialogue elements
- Around 300 words with the meat of the chapter
- Rest is add descriptions, more dialogues, streamlining, smooth transition etc etc
- Final chapter length 1.5K

As an afterthought, all this came after I made numerous mistakes with my previous fiction and wrote more than 300K of words. At last, I figured out what works for me. So, I feel only you can figure out what works best for you and for that, you have to keep writing and keep publishing.