I’m a planner. My house is littered with five million notebooks filled with lists and snippets of ideas – weekly menus, shopping lists, to do lists, story ideas. I jot things down as a way to organize my thoughts, as well as to help guide me in a particular direction.
When it comes to writing stories, I’m a person who prefers to know where the story is going before I begin writing.
There are plenty of ways to go about outlining a novel. If you’re a minimalist, a simple one-page bullet list of key scenes might be enough to get you started. There are some writers who create complex, detail-oriented outlines that are fifty or more pages long. Personally, I’m looking for an outlining method somewhere in between. It’s very easy for me to linger far too long in the planning stages of a story. I think it’s just my way of avoiding the inevitable – writing the draft.
Here are a few articles I’ve found explaining different ways you can outline your next novel:
- The Snowflake Method
- A simple outline if you’re a pantser
- Lit Reactor’s 8 Ways to Outline a Novel
- K.M. Weiland’s series of articles on outlining your novel
- Creative Writing Now’s simple outlining method – plus printable worksheets
For me, the outlining process is a way of fleshing out the original idea and figuring out if I can form that idea into a full-fledged story. I think it’s where I’m the most creative in the whole writing process because the ideas just seem to continually flow.
Knowing ahead of time where the story is going gives me a much needed boost of confidence that moves me from the plotting phase to writing that first draft.