What is a Novel Outline – exactly?
A novel outline is a detailed plan or structure of a novel that includes the main elements of the story such as plot, characters, setting, and themes.
It serves as a guide for the writer to stay on track and keep consistency in the story, allowing them to visualize how the different elements of the story will fit together before writing the actual novel. It also helps to identify potential plot holes and inconsistencies before writing, which can save time and effort in the long run.
A novel outline can be detailed or high-level and can take many forms, such as a bullet point list, a chapter-by-chapter breakdown or a more formal outline.
Writing a novel can be a daunting task, but having a solid outline in place can make the process much smoother and less overwhelming.
A well-crafted outline acts as a roadmap for your story, helping you to stay on track and avoid getting bogged down in plot holes and inconsistencies. In this post, we’ll go through the steps of creating a detailed and actionable outline for your novel so that you can tackle the writing process with confidence.
Why I started using a novel outline:
I began planning my novels because when I wrote my debut novel ‘Meet Me At 10’, I didn’t have a plan in place. As a result, I found myself getting lost in the plot and struggling to transition from scene to scene. I had great ideas for twists and endings, but I couldn’t seem to bring them to fruition. That all changed when I watched a YouTube video by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. He shared how he uses index cards to plot his screenplays, which helped him to identify the weak or boring parts of his stories. I decided to give it a try and it made a huge difference in my writing process.
Watch the video here:
Then what happened?
I eventually discovered a more efficient system for writing novels one after the other and was thrilled to receive amazing reviews for them. I was so excited about this process that I decided to share it with others and I highly recommend giving it a try.
Having an efficient novel outlining system can have several positive results for an author.
Some of these benefits include:
- Clarity and organization: A well-crafted outline provides a clear roadmap for the story, making it easier for the author to stay on track and avoid plot holes and inconsistencies.
- Increased productivity: By having a clear plan in place, authors can write more efficiently and avoid getting bogged down in writer’s block.
- Better pacing and structure: An efficient outlining system can help authors to create a well-structured story with satisfying pacing.
- Improved story quality: A detailed and well-organized outline can lead to a more polished and engaging story, which is more likely to appeal to readers.
- Increased confidence: Having a solid plan in place can give authors the confidence they need to tackle the writing process with ease.
- Improved time management: With an efficient outlining system, authors can better manage their time and meet their deadlines.
- Increased chances of getting published: A well-written and well-structured novel is more likely to get the attention of agents and publishers
Let’s dive in, shall we?…
Understanding the Story’s Plot
The first step in creating your novel outline is to have a clear understanding of your story’s plot.
A plot is the sequence of events that make up your story, and it’s essential that it is compelling and makes sense to your readers.
The basic elements of a plot include the inciting incident (the event that sets the story in motion), rising action (the series of events that lead to the climax), climax (the turning point of the story), falling action (the events that occur after the climax), and resolution (the outcome of the story).
To develop a clear and compelling plot for your novel, try answering the following questions:
- What is the main problem or conflict that your protagonist will face?
- What is the inciting incident that sets the story in motion?
- What are the main obstacles that your protagonist will encounter?
- How will your protagonist overcome these obstacles?
- What will be the climax of the story?
- How will the story resolve?
Creating well-rounded and believable characters is essential to making your story come alive. Your characters should be relatable, have clear motivations, and change over the course of the story.
To create characters that will resonate with your readers, try the following steps:
- Give your characters a backstory. What happened in their past that shaped who they are today?
- Create a character arc for your protagonist. How will they change over the course of the story?
- Give your characters clear motivations. Why are they doing what they are doing?
- Make your characters relatable. What makes them human?
- Give your character’s flaws and weaknesses.
Setting and World-Building
The setting and world-building of your novel can be just as important as the characters and plot. A believable and immersive setting will help to make your story feel real and transport your readers to another world. To create a rich and detailed world for your story, try the following steps:
- Research your setting. If you’re basing your story on a real place, make sure you have a good understanding of it.
- Think about the history of your world. What events have shaped it?
- Create a sense of place. How does the setting affect the characters and the story?
- Think about the culture and customs of your world. How do they differ from our own?
- Think about the technology and magic of your world. How do they work?
Outlining the Story
Now that you have a clear understanding of your story’s plot, characters, and setting, it’s time to start outlining the story. There are several different outlining techniques you can use, such as the Snowflake Method and the Three-Act Structure. The Snowflake Method is a step-by-step process for developing your story, and it’s great for writers who need a lot of structure. The Three-Act Structure is a more traditional outlining technique and is great for writers who have a clear idea of their story’s beginning, middle, and end.
Organising and Revising the Outline
Once you have a rough outline in place, it’s time to organize and revise it. This is an essential step in the outlining process as it ensures that your story is clear, cohesive, and well-structured. Here are some steps you can take to organize and revise your outline:
- Read through your outline and make sure it makes sense and flows well.
- Check for inconsistencies and plot holes and make revisions as necessary.
- Make sure that your characters’ arcs and motivations are clear and consistent throughout the story.
- Check that your story’s climax and resolution are satisfying and make sense in relation to the rest of the story.
- Consider getting feedback from beta readers or other writers to get a fresh perspective on your outline.
Your Basic Novel Outline:
- Introduce the protagonist and their normal world
- Introduce the main conflict or problem
- Show the inciting incident that sets the story in motion
- Introduce the main goal or objective of the protagonist
- Establish the stakes and consequences if the protagonist fails
- Introduce the main antagonist or obstacle
- End the act with a turning point that propels the protagonist into Act 2
- Show the protagonist taking action to achieve their goal
- Introduce new obstacles and challenges
- Develop the characters and their relationships
- Show the protagonist making progress towards their goal
- End the act with a midpoint turning point that changes the direction of the story
- Show the protagonist facing the final challenge or confrontation with the antagonist
- Show the protagonist using everything they have learned to overcome the final obstacle
- Reach the climax of the story
- Show the resolution of the main conflict
- Show the protagonist’s growth or change as a result of the story’s events
- End the story with a satisfying conclusion
What do I do now?
How we see it, you have 3 options:
You can write your novel outline yourself which we totally believe you can – go for it!
You can let us give you the entire framework created specifically for your genre that takes you through the entire process from a blank page, to creating a riveting plot from scratch and being ready to publish.
Lastly, you let us deal with ALL the stress and we create your whole novel outline for you. You simply click to order, fill in a very short form telling us as much or as little detail as you have. eg it could be just “I want to write a crime novel where the suspect is somebody nobody thought of in a small town in the UK”
You will receive:
Compelling title ideas that will ensure your book gets picked up by your readers!
Fully developed 3D character profiles for all your main characters – you will almost hear them speaking to you!
Literally, a scene-by-scene prompt where it’s almost just fill in the gaps on your part.
We create jaw-dropping plot twists!
The endings will be something your readers talk about for a long time.
Not only that…
We give you front cover ideas specially for your niche.
We create the back-end keywords in order for your book to get found on your online store.
10% off your editing with our very own editor (approx value = £ 80)
10% off your proofreading with our very own proofreader (approx value = £ 80) – ps, check out our reviews, to date, we have NEVER received poor reviews for editing, grammar or proofreading – so these are trusted people.
We will buy your book when it’s released.
We will share your book with our own audience – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and our reader-hungry mailing list to help you on your way to more sales.
Insane value to REALLY get your book off to the best start…
You will be able to then do it yourself or continue to let us help you and you focus on the best bit- writing with ease!
If you would like this custom-made professional service, simply CLICK HERE to order.
Creating a detailed and well-organized outline for your novel is an essential step in the writing process. By understanding the elements of your story’s plot, creating relatable and believable characters, building a believable and immersive setting, and using outlining techniques such as the Snowflake Method or Three-Act Structure, you can tackle the writing process with confidence. Remember to always revise and organize your outline, and don’t be afraid to seek feedback from other writers.
Vicky & Claire x
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