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

Reading Time: 2 minutes
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:

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/

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:

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/novel-outline.html

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

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2010/01/25/outlining-novel/

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

http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html

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:

http://www.shesnovel.com/blog/write-novel-outline-like-lady-boss

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:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/20/how-to-write-premliminary-outline-day-one

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

http://www.aliciarasley.com/artout.htm

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:

http://pbackwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2007/09/novel-outlining-101.html

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

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2016/01/25/why-outlining-your-scenes-will-help-you-write-a-great-novel/

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

http://www.fracturedhorizonnovel.com/2011/05/02/a-simple-novel-outline-9-questions-for-25-chapters/

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

http://thewritelife.com/first-novel-8-strategies/

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

https://www.scribendi.com/advice/theplotskeleton.en.html

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

http://www.authorsalon.com/page/general/sixact/

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

http://www.writerstoauthors.com/how-to-outline-a-novel-seven-point-story-structure/

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:

http://samuelloveland.com/writing/story-skeleton-a-simple-seven-step-outline/

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

http://www.pbs.org/pov/guiltypleasures/how-to-write-a-romance-novel-gill-sanderson/

18. So is this:

http://thewritepractice.com/scene-list/

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

http://helpwithpublishing.com/using-a-step-outline-to-create-a-plot/

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

http://www.eadeverell.com/the-one-page-novel-plot-formula/

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.

https://selfpubauthors.com/2013/05/18/how-to-write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants/

 

 

 

 

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

Leave a Reply