How to Create an Outline for your Book

So, you have an idea for a book. Now what?

I loved this ReedsyBlog, it reminded me of what I call communication channels. The author wrote about four different types of writers: The Gardener (Feeler), the Architect (Knower), the Designer (Visual), and the Knitter (Audio).

My Interpretation:

The Feeler
This type of writer is a go, go, go, get it done type. They have an imagination that is so life-like that they can feel the character’s emotions and pass that on to the reader. They are sensitive to criticism and will require an editor. Most feelers don’t use an outline but should consider using a mind map. 
Tools: CoggleSimplenoteScapple

The Knower
Knowers need to plan everything beforehand. This kind of writer will take weeks, months, and even years before they even write the first sentence in their book. They need to know all the details inside and out. It must be perfect! There is no such thing as a timeline. It is finished when it is perfected!
ToolsPlottrScrivener

The Visual
This type of writer has a dream, a single idea, and will figure out the rest as they go. The story unfolds in their head as they write. It may even surprise them! Many visual writers get their ideas during the night or sitting on the toilet (no kidding).
ToolsScriveneryWriterPlottr

The Audio
The words matter! What they say matters! They aced English in school and have taken all the courses. They know how to put a sentence together. . . properly. The scenes matter and this type of writer will write them in any order, then go backfill in the blanks, changing the chapters around until the story makes sense (think notecards or a corkboard).
ToolsTrelloyWriterMilanote

NONFICTION Outline

I owned an accredited college for over fourteen years, so this was normal for me. To write the truth and practical information.

I wrote many courses that I taught the students and later turned them into books. They all had an introduction, history (of the subject matter), up-to-date information, facts, and how-to, step-by-step procedure. In many cases, I used illustration to make my point or true-life stories, and a Bibliography at the end.

There are different subgenres of nonfiction. The one you choose will determine what you’re going to say and the way you will say it.

What the professionals say to do after you know your subgenre:

Step 1: Brainstorm/Brain Dump/Mind Map the chapters for your book.

Step 2: Create a Table of Contents, organize it into related topics:

  • Testimonial’s page or pages (optional)
  • Title page (mandatory)
  • Copyright page (mandatory, placed on the back of the title page)
  • Page with a quotation or a message (optional)
  • Dedication page (optional)
  • Table of contents (not mandatory but highly recommended)
  • Foreword (optional) – this is written by an authority in your field
  • Preface (optional) – this is written by you
  • Acknowledgments (optional)
  • BOOK info goes next (all the information you want your readers to read)
  • Afterword (optional) – this can be used as a closing statement for your book; your parting words.
  • Appendices (optional) – these can be used for additional information that didn’t fit or didn’t work in the body of the book.
  • Glossary (optional)
  • Index (optional)
  • References or bibliography (optional)
  • About the author (highly recommended) – this is where you tell your readers how to reach out to you.

Step 3: Fill in the outline structure.

 

FICTION Outline

When I started to write my first novel, I only knew it was about distinguishing spirits, how to tell spirits apart. That was my main purpose. I had written many nonfiction books and taught a class on this subject for over fourteen years, so I knew the technical stuff, ‘information’ that I wanted in the book, but how to teach it in a story was all new to me.

When I started to write my novel, I had no clue of the procedure and forgot everything I may have learned in high school, so I took a famous author’s first chapter and changed the words to be mine. I copied the structure and flow of the writing. If you read my first chapter and the original authors, they are totally different, but they taught me how to create a start to a story.

I remember when I would put my page into Grammarly to check for spelling and punctuation, the program would continually want me to change the period before someone was speaking to a coma. I couldn’t figure out why until I went back to other author’s books and saw that it was required.

I wrote about one-third of my novel and then wrote the ending, then filled in the middle. Only to find out that I was about 30,000 words short for the genre I was writing. Back went on the thinking cap. It was like adding a whole new book inside my other one, then trying to tie it all together. Luckily, it worked. Amazing what you can do with words!   

Then I had about ten friends/family read my draft(s). OMG, the mistakes they found, even after someone had already edited the new draft. I found out quickly that different people see different errors. I now write without caring what mistakes I make, then have Grammarly check it over, then read it to my husband, then have my mom read it, then my aunt and grandmother, then editors.

Oh, the thesaurus will become your best friend!

My first novel is a series, a set of eight books. Just to let you know, I always start to write my next book before I publish my last. There are many times I need to change something in the last book to make the next book make sense.

Here is what the professionals say to do (BUT no matter what, just start to write! You will be amazed at how the story unfolds as you write).

Master Class says, “In the literary world, novelists who use outlines are referred to as “plotters.” Those who don’t are known as “pantsers” — a reference to flying by the seat of their pants. Famous pantsers include Margaret Atwood and Stephen King. In the plotting camp? Ernest Hemingway and the author of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling.”

  1. Figure out the main purpose of your story? You must resolve the promises you made to your reader by the end of the novel.
  2. What is the theme—what are you trying to say?
  3. What is the plot of the novel?
  4. Characters, create the main Protagonist, Villain, and Victim
  5. What is the conflict of the novel? How is it resolved?

Writing reminds me of the old saying, ‘ You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.’ Writing is a gift that you give to your readers, and no matter the topic, just remember that you are gifting a sacred piece of yourself to them, it is up to them to accept that gift.

Article By Constance Santego

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