How To Outline A Novel — An Easy Novel Outline Guide For The Beginners
Hi there, welcome back to my creative space. I am Anasua Ghosh, the author of three published novels, writing mentor, life coach, and avid reader. When I am not writing, I am either coaching people or I am reading. So, you get the picture I hope. Today, I am going to lay out a format that allows aspiring writers to have an easy roadmap for their books. Those who are wondering how to outline a novel may find this post helpful.
However, before getting started, I must tell you that every writer is different. Therefore, the formats, the outlines, and the methods are also different. So, what works for me might not work for you. Yet, there is no harm in trying, right? If you are going through the mind-numbing how to outline a novel state, here is a quick and easy guideline for you.
Should You Outline Your Novel
Well, instead of asking how to outline your book, some ask me should they outline their books. My only answer is — yes, everyone should outline their books. I like to call it plotting a novel. But the bottom line is the same. You call it plotting, you call it outlining, you call it whatever you want. In the end, it is the technical process of creating a story roadmap.
Why Should You Outline Your Novel
If you are wondering why — you are not alone. I had been a pantser once. I used to write without any roadmap. My way had been to sit and bang words down on papers. Writer like, right? I felt so too. But then unfinished books began to pile on my desk and finally, I realized that pantsing is not for me. I need a roadmap. Since then I grudgingly started outlining my books. It has helped me write three books and publish them too. So, here I am telling you that, you must have a roadmap before you begin to write your book. It prevents writer’s block.
How To Outline A Novel
Okay, to answer the question of how to outline your book, I must begin by saying there are countless ways of creating an outline for a book. However, if you are like me, you definitely hate the process of plotting and want an easy novel outline guide. Here I am trying to give you just that. So, without any further delay. Let’s dive into it.
Premise Of Your Book
How to outline a novel is a common question. I get flooded with this every day. I get DM’s from people, I get emails from people, and they all want to know how to plot a book.
The starting point is — the premise of your book. You will get a long list of book premises if you search online. But I hate outlines. I hate to sit and create the roadmap. So, I have simplified the book premise. I deal with three segments only.
These three are the key elements of your book and your plot should begin from here only. So -
a) Create a short note on the main characters — who they are, what they want, their lifestyle and so on
b) Create another short note on the setting — where the story is taking place, how the society acts, etc.
c) Write about the characters’ conflict — why your characters cannot have what they want.
More or less, this is the ultimate setting. Some writers create a long premise log with the character sketches, the worldbuilding notes, the character interview notes (I find this particular suggestion very annoying — don’t know why), and many other aspects. If these work for you, by all means, go ahead with these. For me, a simple outline works. So, I don’t go beyond my CSC book premise.
A book is a collage of scenes. Therefore, you need to divide your book scene by scene. You can sit and brainstorm the scenes and create a simple one-liner log of your book. Or, you can write detailed scene descriptions which will give you an idea about how your book is going to end. This is the best answer to the question — how to outline a novel.
I take my characters, write about the roles they will play in the book, see how many scenes they will need, and then create one line scene description of each character. This is my outline, plain and simple, with no sticky notes, no separate notebook, no color-coded pens, and no multiple folders. I buy a small notebook each time I start a new novel and use it till my book is done.
If you are writing a contemporary novel, you have the luxury of not paying much attention to worldbuilding. The world is already developed. You cannot create a mountain on the Pacific Ocean, even if your story needs it. So, no sweat there. But the high fantasy writers don’t have this luxury. They have to sit and make long notes on their worlds. Why I am talking about worldbuilding in a novel outline post — is because, the story world plays a key role in the novel, and it should be included in the novel outline, especially if you are writing a high fantasy novel.
One Page Outline
If nothing else works for you, just take a sheet of paper and write down your novel synopsis from beginning to end. It works just fine. However, if you are an underwriter who struggles with word count, this may not be your perfect outlining method.
So, with this, I am gonna wrap it today. I will be back with more on writing soon. Till then have fun. Write more.
Originally published at http://anasuaghosh.blogspot.com on March 27, 2022.