Master post on outlining a novel – 21 ways to outline your book

The Sphinx beside Cleopatra’s Needle is inscrutable, but these links will help unlock the mysteries of book outlining.

In my attempts to outline my novel I did a lot of online reading as well as the books I’ve previously mentioned. Google will find you many sites which offer help with outlining a (fiction) book, but I’ve gathered 20 useful articles. Which one suits you?

  1. This starts small and builds up from a single sentence for your story, to a complete novel. It does assume your initial sentence is good though:

2. This is like the reverse of the snowflake method – start with some questions, imagine scenes that answer them, then write a sentence to describe the overall story:

3. This helps you build a scene list for a novel:

4. This has 8 story structure elements, different to others I’ve seen:

5. Like a Lady Boss? Surely that’s just a Boss, the same way we no longer have Lady Doctors, or Authoresses? But anyway. This is an overall strategy for your book, including outlining:

6. This is part of the Guardian’s series, 30 Days to Write a Novel, or more accurately, 30 days to outline a novel. It goes into enormous detail and for a total pantser like me, is terrifying. 30 days before you can write? What? It’s high quality advice though:

7. This takes a workshop format to build up an outline:

8. Oh my god so much detail in this I can feel the creative life force being drained from me. Sorry. If you love micro-managing your writing, this is for you:

9. This has a great checklist to make sure every scene is adding to your story. No fluff allowed!

10. This is very strict – answer 9 questions to develop a chapter list, then the remaining 15 to complete a detailed outline:

11.This is high level novel-writing strategy, but it includes what to consider when crafting your outline:

12. The Plot ‘Skeleton’. Ugh. But it explains it clearly:

13. This is very detailed and you’ll need to up your browser zoom to read it but:

14. Short and sweet, with further links to explore:

15. For pantsers:

Planning for Pansters: Writing a Novel without an Outline

16. This uses the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to illustrate story structure:

17. This is very similar indeed to the snowflake outline:

18. So is this:

19. This is very straightforward and would work for pantsers as well as plotters:

20. This comes with various free templates. The spreadsheet one is pretty good:

And finally this – if you’ve read all of these and tried them and still your story will not be shoehorned into any of these outline shapes:

21. Pants it.





2 thoughts on “Master post on outlining a novel – 21 ways to outline your book”

    1. Thanks! She is a writer whose work I always look out for. Her process isn’t my process, but then we are all different and that’s good to know too. -Sef

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