Outlines are the scaffolding on which stories and articles unfold. They organize your thoughts, clarify how different sections relate to each other, and act as reminders of sections that need to be further developed. All my articles begin as outlines. Here’s an example.

Urban Gardening

Lead: Recreate visit to Botanic Research Institute of Texas.

Nutgraf: What’s new with urban gardening.

Graf 1: Describe role Blue Zones has had.

Graf 2: How has city policy shaped urban gardening?

Quote: BRIT staffer comment on the trend.

Closing

Once the outline is done, and you have presumably done the research, you can work your way down the topics. Or, you can start on whichever line you want. The sections act as placeholders so you don’t forget anything. If you are not sold on the idea of using outlines, I suggest you at least give it a try. The vast majority of journalists and freelance writers begin with this humble technique.

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