Plotting your entire novel is not a straightforward task and might even feel overwhelming for new writers. Being extremely thorough is the most crucial step in traversing the road map of outlining your book.
After developing your world and your characters, the time setup, and the central conflicts, you now face the baffling job of bringing it all together into a coherent story that is amusing to the readers. This road map is called an outline.
Questions That Must Be Answerer By Your Outline
Apart from mentioning characters and plot points for story construction, your outline must render a general sense of direction for your story as well as the underlying conflicts to help make it intriguing for readers.
Consider the following questions when drafting your outline:
- What is the primary contract of the story? You must resolve the promises you made to your reader by the end of the novel.
- What sort of time pressure is working on your characters?
- What is at stake for the protagonist of the novel? Does the pressure on the main characters grow more intense as the story progresses?
Tips to create an outline for your novel
Follow these proficient tips to draft a decent outline for your novel and captivate your readers:
1. Devise your Postulations
This step is a fundamental idea for your story. One way to find the right postulations is to ask yourself, “What would happen if…?” Once you get intrigued by this query, you can play out several scenarios in your head.
It will help if you answer some fundamental questions such as:
- Who is the main protagonist?
- What is her/her objective?
- What is the situation?
- What does he/she want?
- How will the protagonist portray a contrast of behavior from the beginning of the novel to the end?
- What is an opposing force that might restrain the protagonist from achieving his/her objective?
- What is the central conflict?
After finding out the answers to these questions, pen down a one-paragraph summary of the novel to help you better draft your outline.
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2. Choose a Setting
When writing a novel, the setting (time, place) is just as pivotal as the characters. Readers must feel a sense of where events are occurring, as much as why they are happening.
Planning a setting depends on several things, one of which is the kind of novel you are writing. If you have your story set in the actual world, find photos, descriptions, or other reference materials to display your ideas.
Picture the setting in your head, and note as much detail as possible, everything from the way something looks and sounds to the way it might smell, taste, or feel.
3. Understand your Characters
Create character profiles and visualize them. Assume that you are introducing these characters to your buddies.
Think about what you would say about them, the details that you would include or omit and why, or the kind of journey that each character will undertake in the novel.
It is advisable to work on character backstories or work on the moments in their life that has brought them to where they get introduced in the story.
Work on the elements that have shaped their personality and progression as characters. Mention if they have any unresolved issues that might be vital to the plot.
4. Develop your plot
It will help if you devise a timeline of events and note everything that occurs in the novel, from the beginning to the end. Add details wherever possible, such as the location of the events and the characters involved.
Structure your plot in the following way –
- Beginning: The beginning of your novel must introduce the protagonist, the villain, the world of the narrative, and the sole dramatic challenge of the story. This step must be executed with enough energy to grab the interest of your reader immediately.
- Middle: Tension evaporates when the reader arrives at the middle of a novel; thus, it is good to have the ending figured out beforehand. It is useful to create the climax to which your characters are headed.
- End: Nevertheless, it might seem challenging to figure out the ending even before the middle section. Return to your sole dramatic dilemma, which already encompasses the end hidden within.
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5. Write your Scenes
Once you have devised a plot outline, you will have a reinforced idea of what scenes will require which kind of setting, and this way, you can add them to the outline.
Refine them as much as you desire, everything from where the action occurs to who is engaged in the scene, even dialogues if you are aware of what you want your characters to speak.
Once you have drafted your outline, you will get prepared to begin writing your first draft, knowing that if you waver, you always have the option to turn back to the outline to view the big picture.
As you take off with the writing process, be on the lookout for gaps in logic. Refer to the outline, revise storylines, plot points, and even the timeline as you advance.
While it is pivotal to have a primitive grasp of your characters and your world when you begin writing, it is not necessary to know everything upfront.
Even with the most scrupulous outlines, you might still realize that your characters will have to do things to upset your plans. You must follow your instincts when such situations arise.
Do not hesitate to toss your outline or substantially revise it mid-way through your novel. A good rule that you must have in mind is that outlines deal with plotting what the journey for your characters holds.
Regardless of you creating a story as an artistic experience, or trying to gain the recognition of publishing houses, writing a novel for the first time is a cumbersome process.
By following the points mentioned above, you can learn about the necessary elements that must be prevalent in your novel and ways to avoid common pitfalls.