Writing Outlines


I’ve been writing an outline for my novel. Previously I hadn’t written one as I was going to allow my characters to take me along for the ride. Yes, I’m aware of how naive this is. I was  sixteen when I started, many romantic notions seemed viable then.

As I’m in the middle of my re-write/revision I thought that getting an outline down would be helpful. Turns out, a lot of what I’ve already written needs to be pushed a lot further back than I had originally intended. Also, I’ve discovered that I have duel plot lines, making my novel far longer than intended. One is going to be prolonged into the second novel.

(In the middle of that last sentence I had an epiphany about the plot and just wrote it down into my notes. I’m very pleased with the connections I just made.)

I keep finding deeper and deeper connections throughout my plot, similar to the one that just hit me. The plot is becoming more and more intertwined. I love it when novels do that and I’m trying to the best of my intellectual abilities to make this as complicated as possible. I want the reader to have those “Holy shit! That has to do with that first thing I read in Chapter 2 that seemed insignificant but has a ridiculous amount of meaning!” moments throughout the novel. I love surprises, I love mysteries, and I love cohesion. I also want to love my own work. Because if I don’t want to read it, why would anyone else? I already love and admire my main character Sol. I want to love all of my characters, even my villains.

So, what I really want you to take away from this is that writing an outline can really get the creative wheels turning, not to mention it can give a lot of meat to your plot, even though outlines are generally flat and fact based.

How helpful do you find outlining? Any tips on how I should approach my outline? Should I be combining my first, second, and third novel outlines? I would love your feedback! Help an aspiring fantasy novelist out!

Similar Posts:
Outlining in a Dark Corner
Writing Shortcuts: Things I Wish I Had Learned Before Draft #1
The Glory of Outlines

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10 thoughts on “Writing Outlines

  1. I unfortunately outline after my first draft. My work is very character-driven, which I like, but it is a bit of a risk and a lot of work to let your novel write itself and then try to rope it in after the fact. I do have a very linear mind, so it works out ok, but right now I’m trying to figure out how to expand a novel I really love that’s too short and a little thin on plot in spots. Hmmmm. Perhaps approaching your outline at all is an excellent idea!

    • My outline started only after I had a year long writer’s block which I tried to overcome through re-writing. My mind is very linear as well. I know what it’s like to write character-driven fiction, it’s how I started. My epiphanies all came from explaining the mythologies of my universe. The more I thought of how my world came to be, the more I understood where my main character fit into it and how everything fell into place around her. It’s funny, but my plot isn’t actually driven by my main character, but the action of a secondary character that she is attached to. I find that trying to create an outline, even after the fact, allows me to create plot points that I didn’t see in the midst of writing. When I’m looking at everything as pure plot, regardless of detail it’s a lot easier to make connections. I love writing detail, but from recent experience I’ve found that writing detail comes later once I know where I’m going. I’m not saying this will work for you, but hey giving it a shot wont hurt right? I’d also like to thank you for your input. Discourse is always appreciated.

  2. I love outlines. I outline every project, even short stories. Usually I write a one or two page synopsis of what I would like my novel or story to be about. Then I follow the traditional A, B, C, I, II, III format they teach you in school. I don’t stick to closely to my outlines however. I won’t restrict the creative flow by saying, “No, I can’t write that, it’s not in my outline.” I just use outlines to guide my story, research, and imagination.

    Glad to see another “outliner” in the writing world! Good luck 🙂

  3. Pingback: Writing My First Novel: Stage Two | Melanie's Life Online

  4. Pingback: Plot, Conflict, and Outline | Burgess Taylor

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