Writers often look upon outlines with fear and trembling. Won’t outlines limit your creativity and rob the joy of discovery from your first draft? Why spend all that time preparing for a story when you could be writing it? The question of “how to outline your novel” sometimes seems like poking a sleeping bear with a pointy stick.
The truth, however, is that a correctly wielded outline can be one of the most powerful weapons in your writing arsenal. Outlines ensure cohesion and balance in the finished story. They prevent wasted time pursuing dead-end ideas, allow you to craft resonant foreshadowing, and, most importantly, provide you a foundation of confidence and motivation.
- How to choose the right type of outline for you
- How to brainstorm plot ideas
- How to discover your characters
- How to organize your scenes
- How to format your finished outline
- How to put your outline to use
The first step to creating amazing stories is embracing a broader view of how outlines can help you brainstorm better ideas, write better plot structures, and create flawless first drafts. Even better, outlines are incredibly fun and rewarding!
Part 1: Should You Outline Your Novel?
Should you outline your novel before the first draft? And, if you do, how much is the right amount for you? Get ready to write your best novel with this new series!
Where do you start your outline? Right here! Use these these four questions to discover the big-picture “skeleton” of your story’s plot.
Can you outline your story’s theme? If you start by asking yourself these three questions, you will be able to find the heart of your story every time.
When you approach plot holes purposefully during your outline, filling them in can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire writing process.
Backstory influences plot events, character motives, and thematic subtext. Here are the only 4 questions you need to find your best backstory.
It’s impossible to figure out how to outline any one aspect of your story in isolation. Instead, learn 3 ways to “bob and weave” from one to the next.
Once you’ve discovered a general idea of your plot, you can use these three steps to figure out how to structure your story’s outline.
Character interviews increase both the ease of writing a new character and his success in driving your plot. Grab my master list of interview questions!
Here are 6 tricks to making the most of the final outlining step. You’ve been waiting for it a long time, and here it is: how to write a scene outline!
Figuring out how to outline a series may explode your preconceptions about the process and teach you so much more about outlining and storycraft in general.
To learn more about outlining your novel, click here for a full list of all my posts on the subject.
Want to see what a successful novel outline looks like in action? Read the unabbreviated outline I used to create my award-winning historical/dieselpunk novel Storming. See all the principles you’ve learned about in Outlining Your Novel at work!