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Create a Successful Outline and Plan For Your Novel


Good evening, or morning, readers! Vox Chronos has brought me back again for more writing advice. I’m still rather confused by his methods of communication and, although I don’t know him very well yet, I’m a little concerned for him. Is there something keeping him from sending me a normal email? I don’t even know what the guy looks like!

The way I was invited back today was no less mysterious and disconcerting than the first time Vox Chronos invited me to guest write. He is, indeed, a strange individual. Honestly, after my last guest post on his blog, I was certain I would never hear from him again. I thought I would be able to put the puzzling personality of Vox Chronos and his blog behind me forever.

Yet, here I am. I was working on my computer when the screen went black and heavy static took over my view. The outline of, who I am assuming was our host appeared vaguely. I was frustrated that I still couldn’t quite make out any distinctive or identifying features on his face. He claimed that the signal was bad, which brought on more questions. Where was he that he could barely get a decent signal?

I let him know that I had posted our agreed upon blogs, and that I wasn’t able to decipher the blueprints he had sent. He didn’t seem too concerned or pressed about this fact. At that moment, two new icons appeared on my desktop. He told me to click on them and, against my better judgement, I obeyed.

The first file icon led me to a new set of blueprints, now translated, popped up on my screen. Now, I’m no scientist and I have no interest in delving into an advanced scientific read. I’ll save that for the professionals. I did print the blueprints for safe keeping. For now, they are serving well as a coaster for my morning coffee.

The second file icon on my computer’s desktop were vague instructions for my next guest post on Vox Chronos’ blog. I was a little confused but, as I was about to ask for clarification, he vanished again! Since he’s too busy to answer my questions, I suppose he’s just going to have to accept my interpretation of the foggy instructions he left.

Create a Successful Outline and Plan For Your Novel

You just developed a brand new idea for a novel, and you can’t wait to sit down at your computer and begin with Chapter I! Believe me, I understand that excited feeling when a new idea hits. The initial burst of passion makes you want to launch in and begin writing the story as soon as possible. This is a good thing! However, jumping in without a long term plan for the intricacies of your stories can eventually work against you when it comes time to edit.

If you are writing your story for your eyes and your eyes only then, by all means, jump right in and begin writing! However, if you are hoping to send your novel to publishers within a reasonable amount of time and have it accepted, you may want to consider creating an outline and plan for your story before you jump in head first. While creating an outline and plan for your novel may not seem like the most entertaining part of the writing process, it is well worth your efforts! Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out process, either. Check out these five easy steps to outlining and planning your novel:

Table of Contents:

  • Start with a Rough Outline

  • Create Character Profiles

  • Fill In your Subplots

  • Sort Out Your Pacing

  • Determine the Ending and Possible Sequels

Start With a Rough Outline

This part doesn’t have to be more than one page! Take this time to think through the rough outline of your novel. What are the essential events and pivotal points in your story? Who are the main characters, and what are their roles within the plot? How will your story wrap up and end so that your readers will feel satisfied? Are there any hidden secrets that you are planning to come to light at any given point in your story? This is not the final outline of your story. However, it is a great start so you can begin the process of planning characters as well as the smaller details and subplots of your novel.

Create Character Profiles

For quick access and navigation, it may be a good idea for you to sort your characters in a document that allows you to create a tab for each subject. This way, you can view their name and quickly click to access their information. This will save you lots of time as you won’t be endlessly scrolling to search for specific characters when you need to review their information!

Now, it is totally up to you how much or how little you include about each character in your story. Personally, I like to include basic information about side characters and a more in-depth explanation of the main players in my story. For side characters, it is a good idea to include their full name, a brief about their history, a basic description of their appearance, and any connection they may have to the main plot of subplots of the story.

Main characters should definitely include more detailed information as you will have to include more information about them within the story itself. For main characters, I like to list out everything that I also include for side characters plus details about their relationships with other characters, in-depth descriptions of their appearance, and a basic explanation of their personality. However much information you decide to include for your characters, make sure it serves a purpose for you in the overall creation of your story!

Fill In Your Subplots

While a plot is the main idea of what happens in a story along with how those events unfold, a subplot is a secondary line of the novel that adds depth to the overall story. The main plot of a story is the most important, and subplots add dimension and additional interest for the readers. Subplots are often used to incorporate additional mystery, tension, or even romance.

For best results, try to stick to only 2-3 subplots in your story. Any more than this, and you will run the risk of either confusing your readers or asking them to exert too much mental stamina to keep up with a story that has too much going on. You can effectively plan your subplots by revisiting your original rough outline and using bullet points to add in the secondary plots and how they will play out in your story.

Sort Out Your Pacing

Now is your time to fully flesh out the working outline of your novel! You can use the rough outline of your story, now including your subplots, or you can start from scratch and simply use that first outline as an inspiration! It is likely that your story idea has evolved at this point in time, and you may have some brand new shiny ideas to add in!

To fully outline your story you can use a program as simple as Google Docs. Or, if you are looking for something more intricate and involved, you can purchase programs like Scrivener or Microsoft Word to assist you in outlining and writing your novel. AT this point, I would recommend that you begin to pace out your story by fitting essential ideas and events within chapters. Of course, you can wait until you have finished writing your book to sort your piece into chapters. However, many find it easier to picture events when they are pre-sorted.

Determine The Ending and Possible Sequels

The best sequels are the ones that were planned ahead of time! If you believe your story is long enough and interesting enough to justify a sequel, now is the time to begin the process of loosely planning for that second book. No, you do not have to plot out the extreme details of this second novel. However, knowing what main events will take place in this second edition will help set your second book up for success!

In addition to planning for a sequel, if one is needed, you should also plan out a clear vision for how your first book will end. What will happen to all of the characters by the end of your book? How will you effectively wrap up the main plot of your novel? Determining an ending from the beginning will help guide you through the writing focus by providing you with a clear vision and end goal.

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