More often, we start our novels from a small spark and keep it growing. Sometimes, it gets clumsy and the end product would be something totally different from what we expected. It is not wrong, but maybe, if you try properly outlining the novel, it would be of great help to not just finish the novel but finish on time because you know what you’re writing. I did this clumsy mistake of starting at a point and not knowing the travel of the story with my first novel, but with my second WIP, I have improved a lot on this.
So, let’s outline – the silver line of the cloud! Let’s do it.
One best way to outline is using the snowflake method. I have covered it in methods of writing! Check out!
Or use the Freytag’s Pyramid – jot down the one-liners that would cover under each part of it.
Even if you’re a panster – if you work on outlining, it would help you overcome the writer’s block. Trust me! It works. Anyhow, the outlines are just as flexible as ever, to alter according to the flow.
Things to ponder and write down first:
Write down the important characters
Pen the important scenes that you want to cover – there are times that we have a scene in mind than the actual story plots. So put them down.
Chapters – divide them into chapters, and divide the meat accordingly. Figure out ‘what’ you’ll cover ‘where’ this will avoid any spill at all
Also, tunnel them. Divide your sheets and pen down the different tunnels or paths you have in mind and let the story choose the road to travel to complete the maze
Doing this will help you find loopholes, blunder mistakes, research requirements, and there are thin chances to discover a new plot or a sequel plot.
A person who outlines their novel will be curious and interested, this would make them write faster and publish sooner than usual or planned. You can use mind mapping or sticky note mapping.
Software like Scrivener helps a lot in outlining, you can also do the same in an excel sheet or a word document at ease.
I have outlined my next novel and it is coming up really well! And am so thrilled about it as it falls under dual timeline and is a different take and leaps beyond my capacity.
Quickly open an excel sheet and start outlining! See ya!
I agree, that it takes a sparkling idea to write a novel. Before you start writing them, there are few questions that would help you not just to ‘start’ your novel but to finish as well. Have a look at these questions, answer them and start your novel. If you are mid-way, find answers to these questions and continue. Might help you from getting struck elsewhere.
1.Who are your target audience? – eg: young teens, school students, college students, young mothers, etc., – This will also help you to determine your mode of promotions. For example: If you are writing a novel for young adults – you can market the book via delivering a speech in colleges
2.Did you read the other books that carry the same subject line? – For example: I was about to write a novel that fell in the same pocket as ‘Half-Girlfriend’ was; It took a friend to tell me that am writing something similar. So, going forward, hit goodreads and check for the genres, similar subject lines, and read them.
3. Determine the main concept of the book; sub-concepts if any – where you will cover these sub-concepts. Note: Start your novel with the main soul of your story, give it a gripping start. Example: My first novel “I don’t wear Sunscreen” didn’t have a gripping start but took enough speed later. I thought, starting off with a grip will help the book and then presented a gripping prologue – It worked well with my readers.(Shameless Promotion)
4. There are millions of books around the world, who knows? your idea might have sparked someone else 10 years ago and the book is already there somewhere in some corner of the world. — What’s the difference? – the narration. — determine your narration style.
5. Did you build the virtualworld? – Where your story is based. This is pretty important. Follow Geography throughout the story, else you will miss the excitement. Fix a good place of your interest, travel if possible and find out more. Talk to a friend who lives there; network and talk to those who live at your spot to understand their basic culture. Use street view. Example: Author Alcatraz Dey used Google street view to write about Munich and it worked really well.
6. How original and true is your character? determine the environment, which would help one to understand that a decision or a move by this character is right. It takes the determinants to ensure that an emotion is carried well by your character
7. Why do you think any will recommend your book to others, excluding your friends and family? – This will refine your theme, plot, and concept. Answer this question.
8. What perspective you’ve picked? What’s that a person would gain from your book? – Example: I don’t wear Sunscreen helped a person to realize that dating a misogamist is still okay. It also helped one understand what’s quintessential.(Shameless Promotion – again)
9. What impact do you want to leave to your reader? What should linger in the minds of your reader for another hour after reading your book.
10. What’s your motive of writing this book, other than turning an author or adding another book with your tag. P.S – you can still choose to write to become an author.
Explored few methods that would be of use to budding writers and authors. This was one of the agenda covered during the “Writer to Author – The Transition” event. 1) Snowflake Method
The age-old method, but powerful. The most debated as well, so just a gist of it here.
Write the Soul of the story in one line.
Build 10 or more sentences that covers the major events of the story and completes the whole novel
From each sentence, start building chapters – End of this, you will have your chapters ready
Prologue, Epilogue and few parts more according to your thoughts will have your first draft
2) Sticky note Method
This method can be used by those who write thrillers, murder mysteries, or a novel based on events.
Start writing the bits of incidents on a sticky note
Now that you have scenes ready start sketching the story and place the events as and when required
Timeline throughout and ensure if they fall in place, else change the sticky notes as per preferences
If you think of a better event – replace the sticky note
Keep some sticky notes with you always and pen down events whenever an idea strikes, you’ll never know when a good idea would strike
3) Reverse Engineering Method
Let’s go backward for a change – trust me, this method works best for your second novel. The first novel is an experience, and hence every step you take with your second will be much better once such is this reverse engineering.
Start writing your climax first
You can now start the bits that would lead to this climax
This method can be used when you have the Climax in mind but have few options left in mind to route it. When you reverse the process, the climax will help you judge the best of the ‘Tunneled options’ in mind.
Keep writing the other chapters in which you have clarity and this would assist in directing to the climax. The best of the lot that makes sense will find its way.
4) Shadow Method
The method I followed for “I don’t wear Sunscreen” my first novella. Write the parts where you have enough clarity, and pass over the chapters to a critic/friend who will slap your face with questions. Start answering the questions with twists with the following chapters, this way you can keep off from surprising loopholes and dramatic scenes that has no essence.
For Example: I had a strong character in the story, for which my friend questioned what makes a person from a mediocre family and such a locality turn so strong, I need a reason for it. From there I weaved a background that worked well in the novel and convinced the readers. 5) Paper-clip method
In this method, you don’t outline the novel at all. You won’t have the genre in mind or the sequence, but just a few scenes or portions. Write them all in a paper and clip them, and then outline. This helps you to broaden and spread out from ordinary outlining methods or restrict yourself from writing within the criteria.
Start with Place and Time of events
From here, start clipping.
6) Answer the Big Six:
Answering these will help you keep an eye on the possible loopholes and define every step of your novel. It gives more clarity to you and your readers. You exclude the ambiguity and timelines would back you up throughout without a miss