Outlining the principal stages by which a story unfolds. Also: story lining, story-lining.
storyline v.
storyliner n.
Example Citation:
The media strategy was coordinated in part by the Office of Global Communications, a sort of para-information unit associated with the political wing of the White House. The unit, staffed by a team of young and intensely political communications operatives, was created to shape the American message. (They portrayed the Afghanistan conflict as a war of liberation for Afghanistan's oppressed women.) The unit's plan for the Iraq war, mimicking the real war plan, was to orchestrate the dynamics of the information "battlefield" and to control the outcome-the message of the war. (The Bush Administration's fixation on "story-lining" the war could have unexpected consequences — especially in the search for weapons of mass destruction.)
— Peter J. Boyer, "The new war machine," The New Yorker, June 30, 2003
Earliest Citation:
How to help managers who want to chuck not only their job but their career, yet cower before the void? Mary Jo Perley says she was such a case. A former nurse with a Ph.D. in communication, Perley spent ten years with two large hospital chains, ultimately managing about 800 nurses and allied health professionals. She says a process she undertook with McDorman called storylining helped sort things out.
First, you reflect on your entire life, dividing it into seven-year intervals. From each period, you identify activities that have the following characteristics: (1) They were a real source of joy, and (2) they provided you with a sense of mastery. Choose eight to 12, trying not to focus exclusively on recent ones, and write one- to two-page accounts of each.
— Matt Siegel, "Stayed Too Long? There's a Way Out," Fortune, August 17, 1998
Smith has a successful formula, but perhaps the ingredients are now too obvious. All three Renko books concern smuggling, be it of furs, drugs, or fine art, and their plots hinge on Renko working from clues hidden on audio or videotape. Smith cheerfully accepts that repetitions occur, but his blitheness implies that storylining isn't too important.
— David Pascoe, "Moscow rules," Sunday Times of London, September 27, 1992
A storyline (1941) is, specifically, an outline of a story's principal stages or, more generally, the plot of a story. It's most often applied to film scripts, but it's also used with novels, plays, TV scripts, and other types of narrative works. (It began life as the phrase story line, had a long story-line phase, but is now most often seen in the integrated storyline form.) However, as the example and earliest citations make clear, storylining is also being used in more worldly contexts.
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