This is what I had for my current project.
Book Title - Jonas Watcher: The Case of the Jade Dragon.
The title was somewhat easy for me, I am writing a series based upon a 1930's detective. The title comes from doing some research and expanding upon a Chinese myth involving a dragon.
Jonas Watcher is hired to bring a young Chinese woman from St. Louis to San Francisco to participate in an arranged marriage to unite two old and powerful families from China. As Jonas takes the case, he discovers that there are factions that are opposed to the marriage and are willing to go to any lengths to stop it, even murder.
This is what I had to start with. I have already established characters from the previous two books, that I will use in this third book, so I have the added advantage and disadvantage of using those characters. The advantage is that I have already worked up details of those characters, and I already know how they will interact in the story line. The disadvantage is that if someone is picking up this book without having read the previous two books I have to reintroduce the characters with enough information to satisfy the new reader without going over ground that will bore a person who has read the previous books. Also, I need to maintain continuity that if I misstep, trust me, readers will let me know.
My outline initially consists of lines each representing a section of the book that tells the story. Once I have that done, then I start by writing Chapter headings. Eventually, I will use these headings as Chapter titles. I prefer titles to numbers, but that is a personal choice.
An Incident at Union Station
This was the beginning of the outline to the novel. I write the Jonas Watcher series in the first person, this lets me tell the story through Jonas Watcher. I get to include his thoughts and actions which add a richness and also lets me be less that perfect with grammar because I can write sentence fragments as he is telling the story. It has a disadvantage because everything must be from his point of view, but that just means I have to find a more creative way to insert others points of view.
The outline is not the novel. I am not looking to wordsmith here, but simply to tell the story and include notes to myself and shorthand that will remind me what I need to do when writing the story.
An Incident at Union Station
Jonas is sitting in his compartment on the train, dozing. His Train has been slightly delayed before heading to San Francisco. He wakes up to sounds of distress and sees three men accosting an elderly Chinese man had a young Chinese woman across the tracks from his train. No one else has noticed and no one is coming to the Chinese couple's aid. Jonas checks his forty-four and exits his compartment to help the distressed couple. In the corridor, Jonas sees the conductor who reminds him that they will be departing in 30 minutes. As he gets off the train he notices that the three men have moved the couple from the view of the public. He runs quickly in the direction he last saw them going. He sees a storage area and hears voices. He surveys the area and gets his bearings, his opponents are unaware of their surroundings, they chose it because it was out of sight and sound of the public. (Be here as he analyzes the area for a defensive and attack positions). He approaches the group calmly almost as if he is unaware of what is going on. The Chinese man and woman try to seek help, but the trio threaten them and imply the approaching man may also be in danger. Jonas feigns innocence and then interest as if he might want to participate with whatever is about to take place. Jonas plays his part well and the trio are completely fooled, the Chinese girl is leery, but the old man recognizes Jonas for what he is, a Dragon. The ensuing altercation points out that though he is outnumbered, Jonas is much more skilled at using his environment and the elements about as weapons than his opponents. The Chinese gentleman insists that he and the woman stay out of the way and let Jonas handle the situation, which he does very effectively.
This is the fully written description of the first chapter at first pass. I have little description, I have not identified or described the characters. My intent at this point is to just tell the bare bones of the story so I can get it onto paper, or, in this case, virtual where ever the data resides. In my second pass, I will add some details and may make notes on how I want to story told. I may play with a chapter scene in my head for several hours to longer before I get it down.
The outline is 14 chapter headings and 5 pages. If there is a need I will publish it here, but the example above should be enough to get someone started. My next pass will be to fill in details and add characters names. Also, I will use the outline for research, it will give me direction for areas where I may be weak. I think of it as a map to follow, and I may deviate if something occurs to me when I am writing the novel.