Blog, For Writers, Tools

The Ugly Truth of Outlining Your Novel

Hey guys, I’m back! Sorry for the long wait.

Outlining. Some people dread this process, even to the point where they skip it. These are the pantsers. Some people love the process and these people are usually the plotters or planners. And some people, like myself, enjoy it to an extent.

When it comes to outlining your novel there is one ugly truth you NEED to know. There is no one way to outline. Believe me I’ve done the research. There are hundreds of different outlining structures and strategies. You can read outlining advice until your brain explodes and it might never help you. Why? Because I believe everyone has their own unique process.

Some people don’t write down the outline, but keep their plot points in their heads. Now are these pantsers or plotters? Who cares! Some people, like myself, like to start writing with a general direction and then once they get into the story more, then make an outline. Some people make super detailed outlines and never make changes to it. Others change their outline constantly. How I outline will not be the same process of how you outline. And that’s the beauty in it.

When you look for outlining advice remember to always allow yourself some freedom too. You are allowed to make changes to the process to best fit your and your novels needs and wants. Let me hit you with another ugly truth. Every novel you write might need a different outlining process! What worked for your first novel, might not work for your second novel. Sorry.

If you’re anything like me, you keep things simple. I tend to write down important plot points only. I repeatedly look at them and try to find ways to make the outline better. Sometimes that means moving plot points around. Sometimes it means changing them, or deleting them. I also tend to make separate outlines for each subplot and then create a master outline with all the plot points listed in chronological order (even though sometimes that order changes as I said.) I always try and remember to see the cause and effect relationship between my plot points. I ask myself ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’ all the time. This way I feel like I’m alway improving my ideas.

The only real advice I can give on outlining your novel is to find what works best for you and your novel. But always be open to try new things. Sometimes that’s how you find your new process.

Thanks for reading,

Lalia LaRose


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