I was always kind of against this when I was younger, my thought process was that in planning out my novel I was firstly wasting time that I could be writing and secondly robbing the story of creativity by insisting on planning it rather than letting it form naturally. Now I’ll admit there may be some merit to those notions but by and large I can say honestly that creating an outline for your novel can really help you as a writer.
The first and most important thing to remember, that I clearly didn’t know back then is that the outline is flexible, it only sign posts scenes and events that you want to happen in an order that makes sense, but to extend the metaphor you are more than free to ignore the signposts and wander down the road less travelled.
The true benefit of using an outline as I’ve touched on above is that it can provide structure which is important if you’re attempting to write professionally, it’s basically combining your creative energy with a more focused and disciplined practice to create something that’s both engaging as a story (that’s the creative part) and doesn’t start to unravel towards the middle (that’s the structure and planned part).
In a very real way the outline should be the bones of your novel, it should contain a few things that I will outline below…haha get it? Sorry I’ll be good.
1. An Overview. You can be more in depth if you wish, and we will cover that in a moment but at the very least you should include a broad overview of the story in your outline, your ideas for where the story is going and what you want to happen.
2. Chapter by Chapter. This part really helps me, especially when I was writing my graded unit at college, basically what you want to do is break down (in as much detail as you like) what’s going to happen in each chapter, it really helps to build the novel and give you a clear guide, you as the writer are still filling in the blanks but you have a guide to make the process clearer and more cohesive.
3. Cookie scenes. I’m not sure if I came up with this term or read it somewhere but basically a ‘cookie scene’ is a fun or engaging or exciting or powerful scene, basically a part in the book that you’d remember. For example, the Goblet picking Champions in Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). These scenes can be fun to write, and I don’t know about you but I tend to have a lot of these and then struggle to bring the story to a point where they can work. So I’d suggest if you have these scenes, get them jotted down in the outline, even if they are fully developed pages or chapters so you know what you’re working towards.
4. Setting. By the time you come to write the novel you’ll already know this presumably but it’s important to get this down so that you can refer back to it and use it to accurately develop the story you’ve started building. If you need help with that you can check out this piece we wrote discussing setting by clicking here.
5. Character. This can be as simple as a name and a brief description or a full biography that includes everything from shoe size to favourite drink, it’s up to you, I’m definitely in the latter category. But either way it’s important to include this so you can refer back to it when writing.
So there we have it, a little bit about Outlines, why they are useful and what you can include in them. I hope this helps you and thank you for visiting Undiscovered Publishing.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/