Outlining Your Novel

Whether you’re a seat-of-your-pants writer looking for a change, or a first-timer learning the ropes, my Outline With Me series is sure to help you get organized and moving with your first (or twenty-first) draft.

The full directory of posts follows below. I recommend reading them top-down, as each one builds upon the last.

First, let’s start with your logline.

Then, choose one of the three plot-structure models* below to form the backbone of your plot.

Then, let’s finish with character, setting, and fleshing out our outline.

Bonus Mini-Series: An Outline’s Not a Contract

Though I’m an ardent outline advocate, it’s important to keep in mind that our outlines are there to help us, not hinder us. With that in mind, the An Outline’s Not a Contract mini-series provides personal accounts of my experiences with various outlining formats, including The Paper Trail, Beat Sheets, and Beat Sheets Lite™. In it, I aim to show that it’s (more than) okay to abandon our outlines when our characters call for it, and that a hybrid approach to outlining is often the way to go.

Have questions on or suggestions for future installments in this series? As always, you can reach me on Twitter or through the contact page.

For further reading:

*Of course, there are more than these three models around which a writer can structure a plot. These are simply the three with which I have the most experience.