The Different Ways To Outline A Novel

I never used to outline my novels before. I used to go by the seat of my pants. But all that changed when Georgia McBride began editing the sequel to When Stars Die and told me there was something seriously amiss in the story arc overall. She couldn’t provide further explanation because, honestly, if something is seriously amiss in a story, what advice can you provide? The only thing she advised I do was go back through and create an outline.

So I did.

But then I decided to shelve it in order to work on When Stars Die. It needed to be revised, badly. I created a thorough outline for it, noting all important characters, major themes, story arcs, plotlines, ect. I didn’t want this book to turn out the way the sequel ultimately did (the sequel will be getting a makeover now that the prequel is finished). I simply wrote the revisions in a little Hello Kitty notebook. Of course, my cat threw up on it later, trashing my notes, but I had to go back and fix things anyway, so I started a new outline on the computer.

I simply used Microsoft Word to create this outline, and it was enough at the time. I got When Stars Die done, was able to create a banging synopsis with no plot holes, and now When Stars Die is–oh, I shouldn’t say anything. That is a surprise hopefully tomorrow.

In any case, I use Microsoft One Notes now to outline. I like that tabs can be created, and each tab can be a different chapter. I used One Note to outline my new novel that I hope to get back to working on some time this week. In any case, what do you use to outline, if you outline at all? And if you don’t outline, why not? If you do, how does outlining help you?

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Author:

Also known as The Dancing Writer, she is currently working on The Stars Trilogy, among other works.

7 thoughts on “The Different Ways To Outline A Novel

  1. I do outline…its a bunch of scrappy handwritten notes in a flow chart on a sheet of paper I have beside my laptop on my desk! It works for me. I always wondered what use One Note could be…maybe I’ll give it a try!

    1. I generally tend to as well, but I got tired of writer’s block and getting bored of the story, so an outline helps me focus. Of course, the character eventually takes over, but that outline is there when things start to go off track for me. Then I really hunker down with an outline once revisions role around so I don’t find myself having to re-write so much.

    1. I don’t know how you did it with the Apple Notes, lol! I tried it once and it was just too disorganized for my mind because it’s just one thing. I love Microsoft Notes because of the tabs. Now I don’t know the nuances of the entire program, but I just really need the basics.

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