Having an outline along with the path you want your novel to take is generally good idea. While there are some people who can get away with just writing out there whole novel without one. These people are the unique ones.
Going the pantsing route (pantsing is what we call writing without an outline) can cause your plot meander and go on and on without knowing how to fix it and get in back on track. It can also leave you without a clue of where to go from a certain plot point which can lead you to add more and more new things that leave a stretched out plot and no ending in sight.
After my first attempt at writing a novel (Which I did without a outline) went south fast with a long winding plot and added characters and plots that left plot holes everywhere I moved on from that attempt.
But when I tried again with my current manuscript I outlined and plotted out everything with my book. And this has gone great for me so I decided to share some of the tools that I am using to outline and plot my novel.
1. Your Outline method of Choice.
What I mean by this is that there is no one way or path to outlining your novel. everybody does it a little different. I like to use a bullet pointed word document of all the big plot points along with all the small subplots.
Other people have found that they like to have a board of sticky notes of everything that is going to happen. Or have a notebook full of the plot points in order. Or even just writing down all the chapter synopsis works just fine.
There are many, many types of ways that you can outline your novel. It’s just going to be a matter of finding the right one for you.
2. Character Fill-Out Forms
Character fill out forms have been a great help for me while writing my novel. It has been a quick way to find what I named the main characters grandfather, what I chose for their favorite food, any habits that I gave them.
Having all of this written down so that I can quickly find it has just lets me write quicker.It alos stops me from having to try to find it or just guessing and maybe ending up contradicting myself down the line.
Now you may be asking what are Character Fill-Out Forms?
Well these are like the forms you get when doing to the doctor or dentist that you have to fill out that asks your age, where you live, any health issues you may have.
They are like that. But instead your filling out what the characters hair color is, who there grandfather is. What height are they, what traits do they have.
Any and everything about your character will be in this form so that you may go back to it and find what you are looking for quickly.
To make it even easier for me I used a form I found online and set it up through my word document and filled it out that way. And that made it so that if I need to find a specific thing all I needed to do is quick find it.
So These forms are something that I can really recommend to someone trying to plot out there novel and characters. And they don’t have to be a time consuming thing.
They don’t have to take up any time at all. You don’t have to write out all the questions on your own. There are many, many of these sheets that you can get online.
(I also like to bullet point some of these questions in these sheets for the main side characters too.)
Now again you may be asking why do I a notebook? Why do I need to be taking notes if I have already planned out my novel through outlining?
But the planning of your book is not what you are going to be using these notes for.
I use both a notebook and the notes in my phone for this part.
And that is for the stray thoughts or changes that I want to or am planning to make with my book.
I generally use the phone notes for any of these thoughts that come to me while in bed or while I am on the go. And the notebook I use while I am at my desk and writing.
Now the reason that I do this is because it stops me from editing before I am finished writing. And it makes it so that I wait to add something in only after I am finished writing.
This makes it so that if there is something that has to be changed for some reason, or something that I want to add to the plot, it doesn’t end up a plot hole, or something that contradicts what I wrote earlier.
I also do this because if there is something that I want to change about about a character’s backstory, or personality to make things flow better. I don’t end up spending hours looking for all the places that need to be changed from what I had wrote before.
Not to mention that what I think is a good change might be something that turns out to be not a good move. Which can leave me with even more edits to change everything back to the way it was.
So instead when these thoughts hit me I just write it down and continue on with my writing.
All of this had really been to say that having some type of tool/tools to for your writing process can really help you in the long run.
And hey, maybe you have some of your own little things that you use while writing that I didn’t mention that you can share with me.
So hopefully you now have an idea of where you want to go from here with your writing process.
May you get a productive day of writing after this.