How To Outline A Novel

By on May 3, 2019
How To Write A Plot Outline - Writer's

While some writers get an idea for a book and just like to get writing straight away, others choose to be more methodical and organized in their approach. Here's how to outline a novel.

Writing a plot outline, before you begin any actual story writing, can be incredibly useful. A persuasive plot outline will help guide you when you are finding it a struggle to write, will give you a proper perspective of how your whole novel will pan out and will ensure that you don’t get halfway through your story and realize you don’t have any idea how to finish it!

So how do you write a powerful, practical plot outline that will help you plan your book and make sure that you get the most out of your outlining process? Here are some useful tips.

How to outline a novel tip #1 Devise your book premise

The premise for your book is the basic idea, the very essence of what your book is going to be about. However, to make this more helpful, you need to flesh this out. So write down who your protagonist is, what is the setting and situation they find themselves in at the beginning? What is the change and the driver for action that catalyzes their journey? Who will get in their way and why? What obstacles must the protagonist's face and overcome, will they succeed and at what cost? Try to answer these questions and then condense your answers so that your book premise reads succinctly in a couple of sentences.

How to outline a novel tip #2 Sketch out your scenes

You don’t need to do this in chronological order just yet, but begin to allow yourself to imagine some of the most important scenes that you know are crucial to your story. Make a list of all these scenes and any ideas relating to them. You can then begin to move them around to get a timeline of what might happen when in your book. As you do so you can begin to link and connect scenes together, and more ideas will flow, and more scenes will appear. Try to allow yourself the creative freedom to write every stage, and every thought down - you can always go back and eliminate those that are unnecessary or don’t quite work at a later date.

How to outline a novel tip #3 Get to know your characters

The easiest way to begin to understand your characters better is by interviewing them. Ask them a series of questions to help you get to the core of who they are and what they believe. The better you know your characters they more naturally you’ll be able to write them and the more obvious it will be how they think, feel, and react to certain situations.

How to outline a novel tip #4 Explore different settings

Trying to convey different settings to your reader accurately is tricky, but they must be believable and imaginable for your reader to immerse themselves in the story and the world you have created. Your plot outline allows you to explore different settings and helps you to decide the kinds of setting that will complement your plot, the theme of your book and the characters who live there too.

How to outline a novel tip #5 Write and then condense your outline

Now you should concentrate on writing an outline for your book in its entirety. Here is when you should try to become more detailed, sketch out chapter outlines, add more to the scenes you have created, try to identify the key components for each and work out how the end of each scene will then fuel and catalyze the action that takes place in the subsequent one. Once you have finished, you may wish to try condensing your outline by choosing the most important points. This should enable you to neatly summarise your plot which you can use as a guide while you write and only refer back to the more extensive outline when necessary.

Now you should have a thoroughly researched and crafted a useful plot outline - so it’s time to start writing your book! With such a valuable document to help you, getting your first draft down should be a breeze!

Now you know how to outline your novel ,why not learn more about how to write useful chapter outlines?

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Bethany Cadman -

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