I wish someone had told me how to outline my novel when I started writing the first draft of my novel.
I was expecting that the year-long novel writing course I signed up for would help me flesh out the story first before embarking on – making an impact, structure, backstory, characterization, narrative types, the middle, scenes, chapters, amazing endings – but it didn’t.
Instead, I became the first one in the group (volunteered by the course leader) to bring the first chapter for group critique.
Although my chapter was well received as it had lots of drama, action and a cliff hanger at the end, it put me on the wrong path.
I became a pantser. I was discovering the story as I was writing it. It worked fine for a while but then it stalled. I had no idea how to take it forward and whether it was going in any direction.
That is when I had to stop and learn about outlining.
And learn I did.
Kate Grenville wrote that she had 100-page research material before writing ‘The Secret River,’ her best known work. Margret Atwood admit time write 70 to 80 page outline before commencing her books. But Robert Ludlum beat them all. He writes a 100-page outline for all his books.
I used to think 100-page outline is over the top. It is a killer. But if it was something that could help my novel see the light of the day, I am up for it.
And so should be you.
Midway during writing my novel, I am on a mission to write 100-page outline and see whether it will take out of the rut and help me finish it.
I am researching and sharing everything along the way starting from how to outline.
There are many ways to outlining. One is not necessarily better than the other. But what works for one writer may not work for another. Also, it depends upon the story you are telling.
I was going to write a lengthy post to describe different ways to outline but then I found the following video. In sixteen minutes it gives a summary of the most prevailing outline methods by some of the great writers on this planet.
And if you still want more here are three links but you will have to read the text. There are no videos.
- Check K.M. Weiland‘s method here.
- Check Glen C. Strathy’s method here.
- Check Kristen Kieffer‘s outlining method here.
What method do I use, you may ask.?
There is plenty to take in from all these links. I will talk more about my method in the next post.