Informal Outline

Your Mind Map helped you generate lots of ideas for your essay. Your Informal Outline will help you organize those ideas and provide a blueprint for your Rough Draft.

An informal outline should include a critical question that your essay will answer, a working thesis that provides your answer to that question, and a bullet-point list of main points and supporting reasons for your thesis.

Sample Informal Outline

Question: Why do the first lines of dialogue between Romeo and Juliet (1.5.94-108) take the form of a sonnet?

Working Thesis: Although many in the audience don’t even notice it, the sonnet-dialogue Romeo and Juliet share when they first meet demonstrates how well matched the two lovers are and helps dramatize how quickly they develop a sense of intimacy.

  • Alternate View: most people won’t even notice that R&J are speaking a sonnet
    • Even if you don’t consciously notice it, it can have an effect on you, like subliminal advertising.
    • Actors will know about the sonnet and use in their performance.
  • Sharing a sonnet makes R&J seem like they were made for each other.
    • Trading lines back and forth makes R&J seem like an old couple who finish each other’s sentences.
    • Juliet’s replies make her seem just as clever and quick-witted as Romeo; they make a good couple.
    • By analogy, R&J fit together like the parts of a sonnet: the parts are greater than the whole.
  • The progression of the shared sonnet demonstrates how quickly R&J fall in love.
    • The sonnet begins with the couple holding hands and ends in a kiss.
    • Units get progressively smaller (first quatrains, then couplets, then single lines, then a shared line) which makes it feel like they are literally getting closer to each other.

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Page Last Updated: 12 January 2014