Outlining a Novel

I'd like to speak about outlining novels. How do you intend your novel earlier than writing it?

Listed here are three strategies I've personally used.


I used this technique for my fantasy novel FIREFLY ISLAND. Within the Detailed Define, I’ll define each scene in nice element. This define could be fifty or extra pages lengthy, all define, no precise writing. Earlier than writing a single phrase of manuscript, each scene might be deliberate. I'll have a good suggestion of ​​how the pacing will work. I'll know the place each plot occasion happens. The define might be an entire blueprint.

For FIREFLY ISLAND, my define was so detailed, it contained the necessary strains of dialogue. For some chapters, it even detailed each paragraph!

An instance would seem like:

Paragraph 14: Describe the ogre's cottage. Damaged roof. Vines. Lizards run throughout the bottom and the sky is cloudy.

Paragraph 15: Aeolia enters the cottage. Rotting furnishings, dank scent. Aeolia thinks about her brother.

That is just like the best way moviemakers will create storyboards earlier than capturing any scene. The purpose of this technique is: Earlier than really writing something, I'll know precisely how this novel will look.

In the case of the writing stage, since I already know the complete story, I should not have to jot down chronologically. I can resolve sooner or later to jot down scene three in chapter eight, and the subsequent day return and write scene 2 in chapter three.

The define might be so detailed, that I'll write my copy proper into the define – in the identical doc. Thus, the define will develop fatter and fatter, scenes coming into an increasing number of element, till sooner or later it's not an overview. It's a manuscript.

This is similar technique I take advantage of when portray. First, I paint a tough sketch on the paper. Then I'll fill within the fundamental tones. Then I'll add one other layer of coloration. Then I'll add a layer of element. With each layer, the portray comes into life. Identical with the Detailed Define. At first, my doc is a sketch. With each layer it grows and grows, till it turns right into a novel.


With this technique, I'll plan the fundamental plot, however not each scene or chapter. This define is simply about 5 pages lengthy. It describes the characters, the battle, the general storyline, and that's it. It offers simply sufficient element in order that I'll know the place the story ought to head.

As soon as I’ve the Temporary Define, I'll write my novel in chronological order, from the primary phrase to final. Whereas I'm writing, I'll hold the Temporary Define in thoughts. As a result of I'm not certain to an in depth construction, I'll be free to discover possessions whereas I write. I'll simply let the phrases move. I'll be sure that the story is transferring within the common route I outlined, however have enjoyable and uncover issues on the best way.

The beauty of this technique is that it allows you to discover the pure tempo and move of your story. You're not constricted by a inflexible define.

Once I end writing a manuscript this manner, I would discover many pages that lack construction. Some scenes could also be too lengthy, others too quick, some too gradual, others quick paced. Typically I despatched fifty pages with a single character, fully ignoring the opposite characters and their subplots. Some chapters would possibly finish on the mistaken second, with out a cliffhanger. There was no thought put right into a move that might be thrilling for the reader.

I'll take this pile of pages and lower and paste and reorganizate. I plan the construction of the manuscript AFTER I had already written it. I'll break lengthy scenes into shorter scenes, reducing them on the thrilling moments for cliffhangers. I'll transfer scenes from right here to there. All of the work I might have carried out within the Detailed Define (earlier than writing something), I do now with the pages I have already got.

Among the pages I would toss out. Elsewhere, I'll write new pages. Film administrators would possibly shoot hours of movie, then spend many days within the modifying room, piecing the bits collectively. That's what I do with the Temporary Define, simply with pages as an alternative of movie.


In some methods, that is my favourite technique.

With "No Define", as its identify implies, I don’t plan the plot in any respect. Does that imply I simply soar into the e book and write blindly? No. There may be nonetheless a variety of planning concerned.

I'll spend a lot of time planning every viewpoint character (these characters from whose eyes we see the story). For every, I'll create a doc the place I write every thing I may in regards to the character.

I write about their bodily hits. What’s their hair like? What do their eyes say to the world? How tall are they, and the way a lot do they weigh? Are they good trying or ugly? How does their bodily look have an effect on their habits, and the way does it have an effect on the best way others deal with them?

I describe their background. The place do they arrive from, and what have they carried out in life? How does this have an effect on the best way they'll act sooner or later? And – maybe most significantly – what are their targets for the long run?

I describe their character. What do they like and dislike? I write about how they suppose, what they need, what they worry. Does the character have any quirks? What’s the character's favourite meals? Favourite music?

I write about how they consider the opposite characters within the story. In the event that they love one other character – why? In the event that they hate one other character – why? How will this have an effect on the relations between them? How will they reveal their emotions? Will they act upon them or cover them?

As soon as I actually know the characters, I let THEM write the story. I'll know the promise, however don’t know what the plot might be, or how the story will finish. I place the characters into the setting of the story, and allow them to direct the move.

Daily after I sit down to jot down, I don’t know what is going to occur. I make all of it up as a go alongside. As a result of I do know the characters so effectively, I understand how they'll act in every scenario, and the story wrists itself.

The primary draft comes out a large number. Then I break it into scenes and construction. It's a lot of enjoyable.


It relies on the author and it relies on the novel, I suppose.

Some novels place a powerful emphasis on emotion. Thus, the "no define" technique can work finest. You aren’t constricted by any define, and are free to discover the characters' lives and the drama between them. The one hazard of this technique is that you simply could be left with an unfocused first draft, and should spend a very long time rearranging it.

The Detailed Define works nice for me personally. You already know the place the story is heading and have the liberty to jot down scenes out of order, relying in your temper and spare time that day.

In the meantime, the Basic Define combines the strengths and weaknesses of the 2 different strategies.

Source by Daniel Arenson