The first step in creating an essay outline for Margaret Laurence's short story “The Loons” is to make a claim about the story, a thesis statement that others might disagree with but that you can support with evidence. You might, for instance, make the claim that the loons in the story are symbols for the life, trials, and death of Piquette Tonnerre. Or you might claim that Vanessa might have made more of an effort to help Piquette. You might even claim that Piquette's trip to Diamond Lake harmed her more than helped her.
The first Roman numeral of your outline should be labeled “Introduction.” Letter “A” will identify the attention grabber you will use to start your essay (a quote perhaps?). Letter “B” will list your thesis.
Each of the other Roman numerals in your outline will list a point of evidence in support of your thesis. If you decide to write about how the loons are symbolic of Piquette, for instance, your Roman numerals might list support like the cry of the loons, which is “plaintive, and yet with a quality of chilling mockery”; the departure of the loons; and the suggestion at the end of the story that “Piquette might have been the only one, after all, who had heard the crying of the loons.”
Under each of the Roman numerals that lists your evidence, you should identify further points of description and support. For example, if you choose to discuss the cry of the loons, you might explain as letters “A” and “B” how Piquette is both plaintive and mocking. Under your point about the departure of the loons, the next steps of your outline might discuss Piquette's separation from people (physically but especially mentally and emotionally) and her death. Your third point of evidence, the suggestion at the end of the story, may be backed up with a discussion of why it is true and how Piquette best understood the cry of the loons.
When your thesis, your points of evidence, and your supporting details and description all come together, you will have a well-constructed outline, and you might just discover that your essay will be easy to write.