Saturday, July 21, 2012

STEP SIX - It's Time to Outline


It’s time to do a rough outline of your novel. Are you ready? Feel like you aren’t? Remember the words of Jack London: ““You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Get your clubs out and begin.
A chapter-by-chapter, detailed outline is laborious to craft (Unless you’re James Patterson, who writes from 50 page outlines!) and restricts the creative drive when it comes time to actually write the novel.
Instead, I recommend generating a rough outline that highlights only the major conflicts and character interactions, essentially a more complex version of the summary you completed in Step 2.  A “big picture” outline allows you to always have something exciting to write toward without eliminating the joy of discovering what your characters will do when left to their own deices.
And if you’re still frantically looking around the room for distractions, try these tips:
1.                    Many authors begin with a three-part approach—beginning, middle, and end. With those divisions in place, you can fill in conflict and character details. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
2.                    Use your outline to fill in dates of events. A broad view of your time sequence will be invaluable once you start your individual chapters.
3.                    Some authors highlight appearances of their main characters with different colors. This is especially helpful if doing a mystery and the protagonist makes regular, individual chapter appearances.
4.                    A large, erasable whiteboard is useful if you need to look at things visually. It puts everything right up front and into perspective.
5.                    Another excellent, visual tool for outlining is a bulletin board. With index cards, you can arrange and rearrange sections and chapters at will.

Dear Readers,
I’m so happy you’ve stayed with me through these steps. For me, using structure is terribly difficult. I’m using these steps for my third novel, and must admit—I need the club!
            But I’m moving forward, and that’s everything. Next week - the last step.
Have a wonderful weekend. Make time for fun and for your writing.


  1. Writer Dave Here,
    Many of the chapters in my soon to be released book, have timelines (dates) at the beginning, which I think help keep everything in the right sequence, for the writer and the reader.
    I await the last step.

    1. Thanks for following me through the steps! I've only gotten through the first two! But I'm working on an edit of SNT and and also on Malice. Once I get Malice to the proofer, I'll have more time.
      Good luck with the novel,

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  3. As someone who's contemplating starting a new novel, this was just in time--I have trouble organizing plot outlines into clearly-defined points such as beginning, middle, end, so thanks for the tips!

    Thanks for coming by my blog!

    1. Nice to have you visit! I'm with you on having a problem with structure--the simpler the better to allow room for changes as you go!
      Good luck with the new novel!


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