Outlining a Novel

Outlining is a subject that many authors disagree on, there are authors who like to outline key elements in their novel and leave the details out for later for them to figure out, and there are others who outline every single detail of every event in their novel while in contract, some authors don’t outline at all; they simply jump in and get surprised themselves about what comes out.

You as a writer need to decide which methods works for you and gets the novel written; once you get that decided then you can get started on either outlining or jump right into the novel.

If you do want to start outlining, the Untitled Chapters Team would like to give you a few pointers in preparations for NaNoWriMo

What is an outline?

Outlining a novel is a process that a writer takes to map out their story and the events that they want to occur in it in sequence. It can be a 10 bullet point outline listing the most important events that the writer wants to happen OR it can be a 10 PAGE outline with all the details in place in paragraph form. Either way, an outline should help show the writer how their story starts and what happens that would lead it to its end.

Advantages of Outlining:

  •  Authors will know where their story is headed. Knowing this will lower an author being lost or unable to figure out what happens next in their book right in the middle of it. It makes authors feel more secure that they know where they are going with this
  •  Connecting events. Having all the events listed out in front of the author can help them in connecting the events together which will make the story flow smoother, this is especially important in the mystery genre
  •  Be able to change sequence of events or plots. When reviewing the outline, writers are able to identify some gaps or disconnections within their story before they even start

 Disadvantages of outlining

  • It could limit your creative process and make writers feel like they should follow it to the word when it is not the case at all
  •  It might be less exciting for the author seeing that they already know what is coming and therefore do not have that element of surprise themselves on how their book turned out the way that it should be

The key is to understand that writers should not force themselves to stick with their original outline that they put up. If certain things that you put in your outline don’t work then take them out, edit your outline if need be.

Tips on how to outline

  1. Decide what you want to do, what is the goal that you want to achieve with your next book. This would include:
    1. Deciding on what Genre you’re writing in
    2. Decide who you’re characters are. Who are your main characters and who are the cast. Write up some details about them
    3. Figure out what time they are living in
    4. Have an initial idea in mind
    5. Identify what is the main issues or conflict in the book (without it, the book will most likely be dull and eventless)
    6. What is the message of your book
  2. Brainstorm on some major events that the book needs
  3. Write your initial ideas down in sequence
  4. Figure about what are the major events that you want to happen to the characters in your book. try to visualize the scenes with the characters as you brainstorm
  5. Fill up the gaps in between the major events with other minor, yet important scenes
  6. Once you think you have all the events down from the beginning of your novel till its end. Leave the outline for a couple of days then go back and read through it. Reviewing your outline will assist in:
    1. Being able to look at the whole picture of your novel from beginning to end
    2. Look at your characters and their actions in the book towards certain events that occur to them
    3. You’ll be able to see if the events of the book are connected and are running smoothly. If they are not, then you can always move events around or change things
    4. Spot plot gaps that you initially didn’t see while outlining and be able to fill them

These are just some simple tips on how to outline a book, there are many ways and techniques to do but the Untitled Chapters Team wanted to post something to fellow writers who are struggling to create their novel outline

Good luck and happy writing

– Untitled Chapters Team





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