Jun 2, 2012

How To Outline Your Novel Part 4

By Bonnie Harris

So, this will be the catchall post. To start at the beginning, here are the links--introPart 1 (The Hero's Journey), Part 2 (How To Beat Out Your Novel), Part 3 (Snowflake Method). 

There really aren't any more big methods with names. I know people who outline with index cards or post-it notes and stick it up on a wall or whiteboard. That way they can move things around more easily. 

There are software programs out there to help with outlining. Who would have thought? :)

Here are some other great links to give you an idea of other ways to outline.

How To Write A Novel by Glen Strathy
Outlining Your Novel by the Creative Penn
Novel Outlining 101 by Paperback Writer
Plotting With A Purpose by Paperback Writer
Plot Outline in 8 Steps by Glen Strathy

And here's an interesting article from the New York Times for the discovery writer side.

Frantically, when you look at everything, it can be a bit overwhelming. I began this journey with an idea of what I might use to outline my novels. The more I've learned, the more I realize that I really am not an outliner. There's too much of the discovery in me. So, for those of you who can outline your entire novel before you even write it, (I can think of a few authors off the top of my head) more power to you.

For me, I can't process things that far ahead. Here's my comprimise. I'm about 3,000 words into a new WIP. I know where I'm starting, and I have an idea of where I'll end. The middle is up in the air. However, it's been helpful for me to have the Beat Sheet in front of me to keep me on track, or rather to remind me of what needs to be in the story for sure.

Annette Lyon and Elana Johnson said they write their first drafts, and then fill in the outline to make sure they aren't missing anything. They are able to spot holes pretty quickly. I think this is how I'm going to do it. It makes sense to me. I have my roadmap, but I don't have to decide right away how I'm going to get to the end. For me, this is a really exciting new journey. We'll see how it goes and adjust on the way.

Ultimately, you have to find what works for you. Don't be afraid to take something and make it yours, afterall, isn't that what we do on a daily basis? I'd love to hear about what is and what is not working for you. I'll keep you posted on my progress as well. In the meantime . . .



  1. Wow Bonnie!
    Thanks for sharing this great information. I really appreciate the time you took to help your sister writers! Good job!!

  2. Thanks, Kari for always commenting. :) I appreciate the encouragement.

  3. This was very helpful. I finished my first YA book and need to check the flow of the chapters...Yeah!

  4. Glad it helped. Good luck with your book!

  5. Bonnie I just realized I did not comment before. I found your information timely. You had a lot of resources I am not familiar with and will have to add to the to-read list. Thanks.


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