There are so many blogs dedicated to outline preparations for novels. This blog post is not one of those posts detailing why you should or shouldn’t outline your novel. Instead I urge you to do what makes you comfortable and gets the job done. Pumping out a novel isn’t easy and whoever says otherwise is bat-shit crazy.
As a new author, typing up an outline helps me keep on track and accomplish my word goals.
The image above is my Novel Outline Template. It may seem basic to some or daunting to others, but to me it is the document I always have open and am always racing to when I need to backtrack or re-organize stuff.
This Novel Outline has the following content to be filled in:
- A Brief Novel Blurb – I copy and paste my novel blurb everywhere. It keeps me inspired and eager to finish my novel. Even just a short snippet of what your novel is about will do!
- Chapter # – My novels are anywhere from 20-30 chapters. This number will vary depending on what you’re writing and what your end goal is.
- Chapter/Scene Title – Some authors insert clever titles into their books. I use these titles to recall what exactly this chapter will be about. I don’t use these titles in the final draft of the book, but I know other authors who do. These amazing authors create clever titles that excite a reader and lead into a wonderful chapter.
- Day/Time Period – This column was especially useful while drafting, Curse of the InBetween. My main character, Elara, only has 30 days to escape from the InBetween before her body has its plug pulled. By keeping track of the days or time periods, I was able to successfully map out what happened with respect to certain days. You’ll have to read Curse of the InBetween to find out what happens next.
- Chapter Blurb – I found this column to be the most fun part of my novel. It gave me a chance to write a small blurb about what I wanted to happen in this chapter. This way, I kept on track with my story line and made the settings flow much smoother.
- Word Count – Now, a lot of authors have different opinions on how many words should be in a chapter. My chapters vary. In my book, Curse of the InBetween, I have anywhere from 900 to 4,000 words in one chapter alone. When I’m writing, I usually have an idea of where I want the chapter to end or a new chapter to begin (as per my outline). I love to end on cliffhangers. It makes the book more interesting and the reader more invested in the story.
- POV (Point of View) – The Point of View or POV, is a personal choice. Ask yourself, what point of view is right for my story? I used first person point of view in Curse of the InBetween. This way, I could interact as many different characters as possible. In my outline and in each chapter, I make sure to specify who I want to be the one speaking in the chapter. This way I don’t confuse the characters voices.
- Completed? – I love check boxes! I love checking things off my to-do lists and I love making the lists to begin with. There is something so pleasurable about checking off a chapters completion. I definitely recommend giving yourself a reward when you complete a chapter. My rewards are mostly food based or TV related, but sometimes I’ll treat myself to a spa day or go out with friends for some fun.
So there you have it. My process in a nut shell. This will be the same process I’ll be using during NaNoWriMo this November. I can’t wait to hunker down and begin the most stressful month of the year (wink, wink).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write up my outline for NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck!