The Novel Outline
by Alexandra Monir
Authorlink proudly welcomes this Randomhouse author as one of our regular columnists!
|“I had a 50-page outline for my first novel, Timeless, before I began Draft #1 . . .” |
One of the first things we authors determine when starting a novel is if we’re a “plotter,” a “pantser,” or somewhere in between. Plotters are exactly what they sound like: authors who map out every element of a story, from character arcs to the scenes that will make up each chapter, before sitting down to write a single line of exposition or dialogue. Pantsers are the opposite: these are authors who think and create best when there’s no outline and they’re starting from the blank page. They simply dive in headfirst! I’ve worked both ways, which is why I’d call myself an In-Betweener. I had a 50-page outline for my first novel, Timeless, before I began Draft #1, and while it was certainly helpful, I deviated so far from the outline that the final book is pretty unrecognizable from it! Ultimately my best breakthroughs on the story came through drafting, not outlining, which is why I went the Panster route on the sequel, Timekeeper. While it made sense to go in that direction after my experience writing Book #1, I found working without any sort of outline or parameters to be really tough and stressful. So that leads me to the middle ground I found on Suspicion, which will continue to be my method going forward.
STEP #1. Write up a synopsis of the story.
This can be as thorough as a 22-page book proposal (as I did for Suspicion) or as brief as a one-page summary, but either way, make sure you have the meat and bones of your story written down and that you know where you’re going.
STEP #2. This is what I call the non-restrictive outline. I’ll make a very loose outline of each chapter, covering the fundamentals:
This way I have the freedom to go wherever my imagination takes me, but I still have a solid framework to support me.
STEP #3. Write the first draft! More on this in my next column.
|“What is the opening sentence of this chapter? This way I can make sure that I start strong every time. . .”|
STEP #4. Revision Outlining.
After I have a completed draft to work with, I’ll go back to my chapter-by-chapter outline, and add the following questions for myself:
|“Since I realized I tend to rely a little too much on adverbs, I’ve begun counting them and eliminating them wherever I can.”|
And those are my outlining tips and tricks! I’d love to hear yours, so please share in the comments. Happy Writing!
Alexandra Monir is an author and recording artist in her twenties. Suspicion is her third novel published by Random House. Her debut was the popular time-travel romance, Timeless, followed by the 2013 sequel, Timekeeper. Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is at work on her 2016 novel, while also composing and recording original music. Her music can be found on iTunes, and you can visit her website at www.alexandramonir.com. Follow Alexandra @TimelessAlex.
Categorised in: Writing Insights
This post was written by Editorial Staff