How to Outline a Novel Step by Step by Isadora Felix - Usa
Welcome, my favorite people! Let’s outline a novel together, shall we?
So you’ve decided to surrender and finally outline a novel. Congratulations! You’ve truly taken a step further from many people that want to write but NEVER FINISH that story. Lack of outlining could actually be some of the main reasons you CAN’T FINISH it or you get a major writer’s block. You can read more in this blog post that I talk about why you might not be able to finish that story you desperately want.
One thing that will help you tremendously will definitely be outlining your story. Outline a novel can be the difference between failing and getting to publication and becoming an author.
What is outlining in writing? What is the purpose of outlining?
A story outline is basically defining a path that you follow from page one until the last page.
You can outline a novel in a lot of different ways and it doesn’t need to be extremely detailed, but if you know what is going to happen chapter by chapter, it is much easier ‘to see the bigger picture’. You can understand what is the purpose of each chapter, how they connect together and how you are going to create that crazy ending you want so bad.
It basically means creating a structure that you will follow to help you finally finish that book.
If you don’t outline a novel it’s VERY EASY to get lost. A book is very long. You might be relying on sheer imagination and creativity, however, at some point, you will have to create a way to make things start to make sense to your reader.
The lack of structure and outlining is actually a reason why many people fail. They don’t know where they are going, so they can’t finish. Or they might even finish the book, but there will be many parts that are confusing and not well-connected. The reason for that is they didn’t know where to go.
Do I HAVE to outline a novel? Can’t I just write?
I believe that at some point, yes, you’ll have to do it.
Do you have to start BY OUTLINING?
Write in your writing style. If you know that you can’t possibly know the ending if you don’t write until the middle of the book, then don’t start by outlining! You might get stuck!
I feel this way as well when I am staring at the blank outlining sheet. I don’t know these characters, I don’t know this story, how will I decide each chapter?
So I might start to write the actual book, get to know a little my characters, write some scenes with them. I want to discover who they are and how they react. If you have already written something, you might know what I am talking about. The story has a life of its own. It evolves and you might want to go to a place and end up in a whole different one.
HOWEVER, after you’ve really decided what this story will be about, what features it will have, how the characters are, in which world it will be, it might be time for you to create that plot structure. You might already know it in your head, but if you write it down, I guarantee you that it will be much easier to see it. Then you will be able to connect it like a puzzle and it will become more mature and elaborated. Also, you will be able to break it down, edit it, make it bigger, whatever. You will really know what you are doing.
I like the metaphor that when you don’t outline, you are running a REALLY big obstacle marathon (I mean 40.000 words plus big) BLIND. You don’t know what is coming, you might trip, you might fall, you are afraid that you aren’t going to make it. It is simply much, much harder.
But when you do outline it is like if you were in a helicopter, watching everything from above. You see all the obstacles, you see the finishing line and you are ahead of all your competitors because you already know what is coming and you are getting there FAST, while they all have their blindfolds on.
Before you outline, it is like you are in a training mode, you are training for the marathon. When you want to become a professional, you HAVE to know what you are doing. Every big writer has a structure at some point because THEY know what they are doing. The reader might have no idea, they just want to read. However, the writer knows how the mystery will end and how the characters will get there. They outline a novel.
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