For some people, writing is easy and comes naturally. For me, I get too bogged down with making my chapter perfect before I move along to the next. Sometimes, I’m not sure where I’m headed by the time I begin writing the next chapter in the book.
Do you feel that way? Without a proper outline, you’ll hit a proverbial dead-end and your book will never get written.
Too often I hear from writers, they have so many ideas they don’t think their book will ever get written. It’s okay to have ideas, but making sure we have the right ideas is what counts.
One way to make sure we’re laser focused on having the right content in our book is to outline our work. I know, that’s the evil word everyone hates. Personally, I hate doing outlines. I never saw the reason or point for them, until I began writing my second book.
Yup, you guessed correctly, I didn’t outline my first novel. Whoops! But if I knew then, what I know now, I would have outlined everything I wrote.
DON’T HIT A DEAD END!
Outlining is something that will help give your book stability and help you as the writer know where you’re headed. Think of it as a roadmap. If you don’t know where you’re headed, you’ll end up at a dead end.
There are many ways to outline a novel. Let me give you four:
TRADITIONAL DETAILED OUTLINE:
This style of outlining is what you learned in 8th Grade. It gives you a deep look at your subject matter and will help you with your first draft. In a sense, you create your outline, then begin filling in the details for each point.
- Chapter 1 – Title
- Chapter 2
- First point.
- second point
- third Point
- give them something valuable/go deep.
- Chapter 3
This is the style I prefer to use. It gives me just enough of a structure to get going but gives me the freedom to move around and write off the top of my head. I begin writing all my books using this style to give me an idea of the overarching story/concept.
- Chapter 1 Title
- Main Theme
- Main takeaway
- Main Challenge
- Chapter 2 Title
3″ X 5″ CARDS:
The use of 3″ x 5″ cards is something a lot of writers use. In fact, I know several writers who put all their thoughts down on cards, then they can organize them as they see fit. Once they’re happy with the organization, they begin to write the story or even make a detailed outline before they begin to write.
STORYBOARD YOUR BOOK:
One concept that I’ve used, and is quite helpful, is to visually put your story onto a 5 X 4 grid. This grid will help you organize your thoughts into 20 chapters along with places to add the motivation behind your characters choices.
If you are a visual person, this could definitely help you along in the process of seeing your book. I wrote about my process here.
However you get your main idea out of your head and onto paper, outlining can help you formulate your book. Once you have an outline, it’ll be easier to write and move toward your goal of writing. Don’t make the mistake I did by not outlining. This one thing will lift your writing to the next level and give you strength in your work.
Don’t get bogged down in the details right now, get a simple outline written with your main ideas. Once that’s done, you can begin fleshing out each idea. I’ll be the first to tell you when you see your outline, the book will write itself. Now, go and write that book.
If you want to begin the process of outlining your big ideas and chapter thoughts, download my Evernote storyboard template. You can use this to take your book writing to the next level. Just use the form below this post to get your storyboard template.
Question: How do you get your ideas onto paper? Which outline format do you use? Leave a comment by clicking here!
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