Welcome back, scribe tribe!
Last week, we started this blog of writing awesomeness off with a series called, “How to write a book” We talked about starting your book with a strong message that the reader will walk away with. Click here to view that post.
This week, we’re going over outlining!
Why you should outline:
Have you ever started writing a book, then realized part of the way through that there are plot holes? Maybe you realized that things aren’t connecting and/or flowing the way you wanted them to? Or maybe it just downright sucks? This only happens to me when I don’t write an outline! It turns into me spending time writing a story, then scrapping it later; or I end up with three times the amount of editing I would have had to do, had I simply outlined my story from the very beginning.
Some people think that outlining takes the fun and creativity out of writing: That it makes writing feel more like a job to them, rather than something like they love to do. If that is you, then that’s okay! We all have our own way of doing things. BUT, if you are open to outlining, then read on, my fellow scriber!
When you start with a detailed outline, you know how the book starts, how it ends, and everything that happens in between. You will be able to work out any plot holes that could exist before you even write it. You will be able to get a good idea about the general feel and flow of the story before spending days, weeks, and even months beginning to write it.
Aside from saving yourself from three times the amount of the already-daunting editing process, when you know everything that will happen later in the book, you can add little hints of foreshadowing to your book early on in the story, which readers always love.
How to outline:
There are several different ways to write an outline. There are even programs that help you do this very thing! If you want a program that helps you do this, I recommend using Scrivener. I have never used it myself, as I prefer to use my own simple method, but I have heard great things about this program.
If you want to save some money and do it yourself, then try it the way I do it.
I start with the few main events of my story.
Let’s pretend that I am writing Lion King.
The 5 main events would be:
As you can tell, there are A LOT of important details missing in this outline, but that’s okay! We’re going to add to it.
Starting with the 3-6 main events of the story gives you a great and non-stressful starting point. Once you have these main points, you start adding substance to each event.
Now, we have added sub-events to each main event. Once this is done, we do the exact same thing with the sub-points. We add more substance to each event until we have a solid outline of the entire book.
Sometimes, when I’m all done writing an outline, I will go in and sort out where a new chapter begins. This is really helpful!
Having this outline gives you a guide while you are writing your story. It helps with writer’s block as well! When I don’t know exactly where I’m going with the story, it ALWAYS leads to writer’s block at some point. But, when I have an outline, I rarely deal with this issue because I know exactly what’s happening and what to write next.
It’s important to mention that, even though you have an outline which details your entire story, it’s completely normal and okay for things to change along the way, as you write the actual story. Don’t treat your outline as a set of rules: It’s a guide!
Stay tuned, because next week, we will talk about the 1st draft of your book.
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