Outlining in Trello

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I first heard about Trello a few years ago. I was becoming interested in project management, and it is a free Project Management website and app. You can sign up for a free account if you want to try it. *This post is not sponsored.*

I’ve used Trello to help manage my projects at my day job, and have started using it to keep track of ideas for blog posts and I’ve added an upgrade to my board for tracking those ideas so I can also see and decide when each post would go live on the blog. I’ve seen many layouts for outlining a novel using Trello, and since I’ve been using Post-It notes, which I fear coming off the wall or getting moved out of order due to the current state of the house, so I thought I would give Trello a try. The screen shots and recordings in this post, contain just random ideas you may somehow come across in a story, and do not relate to the story I am working to write currently.

When you create your board, you can pick any background you may want. They have many options and you can pick something relating to the story or a simple color. I like using the pictures for backgrounds.

Because my mind lately has been showing me seemingly random scenes from the story, I’ve created a column, or bucket as Trello calls it, for a scene dump. I create cards for the scenes my head shows me, similar to creating a sticky for each scene. I capture the scene with a few words, and if I like, I could go into the description area of each card to write more notes about what is happening in each scene. Maybe there is a quote I see and hear one of the characters give and I want to keep it. I’ll put this in the description for reference when I actually go to write the scene.

Unlike when using Post-It notes, I can not leave blank spaces to see where there may be holes in the flow of the story. To solve this, I create a new card with a few question marks and move it where I think there is a hole. Maybe the hole is one Post-It worth, maybe it’s more like two. I can create as many cards with question marks as I need. This will let me see the holes which need filling similar to if I were using Post-Its and leaving blank spaces.

I’m attempting to use a 3 Act structure to organize a bit, but I’ve never used, or I should say I’ve never consciously used a 3 Act structure. I’m trying not to be too strict about where each Act ends, and more just the flow of events makes sense.

If you are one who prefers the Save The Cat Beat Sheet, you could make each card one of the beats. This is a bit too detailed for me, so I’m just kind of working this outline by feel for now. We’ll see how it all works in the end.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use when outlining?