What is an outline?
An outline is simply a plan for your novel, a roadmap as to where you’re novel will go.
There is really no right or wrong way to outline a story. Writers choose how they want to outline or how much they want to cover of their story in their outlines. Some authors don’t outline at all and merely just write!
Though there are many advantages to outlining a novel, some of these advantages include:
- Writers have a clear picture of how their story will flow and being lost will become less likely while writing.
- Having a full outline of events can help writers not reach a dead end in which they don’t know what will happen next
- Planning becomes much easier as writers can link several scenes together so that they can connect with each other. mysteries tend to require outlines because the tiniest of details tend to come together at the end of the book
Some writers feel constricted with having an outline; they cannot fully let out their creativity if they feel they are bound to an outline; which beats the purpose of the outline. No matter how details writers outline it should serve the purpose of being guide to the authors and not an instruction manual. If writers discover new aspects to their story or if they feel that a certain scene that they’ve placed in their outline doesn’t quite fit into the story they can change their outline accordingly, after all new ideas tend to come into writers mind during the writing process.
Writers shouldn’t stress about their outline too much, after all they are only points for the writer only. The reader won’t see it so fancy words or great expressions in doing outlines isn’t really necessary. Outlines are only to help the writer know where he is going.
Though there is no one way to outline, the Untitled Chapters Team did some research and would like to offer one method to you on how can you outline.
- Brainstorm freely, think of ideas and possibilities before you start to outline. Note down your ideas as they come into your head
- Once you feel that you’ve brainstormed enough, you should be able to answer the major questions about your story.
- Identify the main events in your story and try to imagine the scene. For each scene try to imagine the following
- The characters in the scene and the viewpoint
- The place where the event is happening
- What is going on in the scene
- What this scene adds to the book. After all every event in your story’s outline should have a purpose, either it will move the plot or your characters forward in the story or it could be a challenge the character have to overcome. Either way events in the outline must each have its individual purpose to the story; if it doesn’t accomplish at least one purpose then it is not essential to the story and you can get rid of it
- Write a summary in 1-2 sentences of your novel’s main idea which can include the characters, what is the main issue or goal. If you find that you can’t pin your novel down to just 1-2 sentences, then your idea probably isn’t focused enough yet, and you should keep working on it.
- Once you have all your scenes written down, look at their order. Are the events flowing naturally one after the other? Here is where you can add missing scenes, take out unnecessary ones or even rearrange scenes all together. Put everything into the best order for telling the story. This is your novel outline! Use it to help you, but don’t hesitate to keep changing and improving it as you write. The story might take you in unexpected directions, so stay open to surprises!