• Zeba Ali

How to Outline your Novel?

Heya everyone. I'm back. Yes, after one month. I have been busy in Quarantine *Liar Alert*

Yes, I have been a little bit busy in Quarantine because it was Ramadan in total May and I had a great time, Alhamdulillah. I hope you had too.


So in this post, I would be answering your most asked query, how to do an outline for your novel. I will be telling you about what is it, its types, my own method of outlining. Let's get started :D



What is an Outline?


An Outline of your novel is simply a blueprint. In an outline, you're planning about the characters, their goals, the genre, the time in which you're setting your novel, plot, and much more.


It's not necessary to outline your novel but if you want your writing process less fussy it's a good habit. You know beforehand what's next in your novel while writing that is fewer chances of getting a writer's block.


Types of Outline


There are many types of outlines and there's no right way to do it. Whichever you feel good, easy, handy, use it. You can either mix two or more together to make your own outlining process.


  • Synopsis Outline

This method is about writing two to three pages of a rough idea about your book. Like what is in there but also gives you room for flexibility. It's a synopsis of your novel but a rough one.

  • In-Depth Outline

In-Depth Outline is the advanced version of Synopsis Outline. It will contain everything, chapter summaries, scenes outline, character arcs, subplots, main plots, whatnot. As it is a lengthy process it needs more time too.

  • Snowflake Method

The Snowflake method as the name suggests starts from a small idea and then you increase it slowly. Just, for example, my book Beyond Our Melancholy's snowflake outline would start with a simple sentence: "The billionaire is anxious seeing a crying veiled lady in his dreams who asks for his help." Now working in the Snowflake method, we would be required to build that sentence in a paragraph, then that paragraph would change into character summary and so on.

  • Bookend Method

In the bookend method, you just make sure you have the start, the main characters, and the end of the story and the rest you plan while writing the story itself. If you're pretty sure what your story is all about and how it will move ahead, it would be a good method for you.


My Outlining Process:


In all honesty, my outlining process is terrible. Like in my mind I have a clear idea about my book but when I go for outlining it's messy and jumping from one place to another. I basically start with my main characters and their profession and what's happening to them and around them. That's how just I build up my story and as it moves forward, I get a clear idea, how I want to shape the whole novel.


Like if we're talking about my latest short story Uns, on Wattpad, my readers suggested that it should be set up in Australia, in the 20th century, the characters should disapprove of each other. So it was kind of easy for me to build a story around them. It was my first time writing a historical romance and that's why I made a proper story outline how I wanted to see the story moving forward.


It's a story set up in Newcastle Australia, 1989, and the biggest earthquake, Australia ever witnessed. How it affects the life of the two main characters, Uzair Ahmer and Sairah Hameed?

I made sure to keep track of the main characters' age, their professions, and also their temperament as the story moves back and forth from past(1986) to present (1989).


Now let's see what our famous authors say about outlining:


I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write. ~ J. K. Rowling

Prose is architecture. It’s not interior design. ~ Ernest Hemingway

For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me. ~ Jack Dann

“I’m a strong opponent of outlining. It’s deciding in advance what the story will be, and then just bolting the whole thing together like something out of a hardware store. Tortured transitions are the mark of an outlined story.” ~William Blundell, author, The Art and Craft of Feature Writing

Now you know, not everybody is a fan of outlining. Some prefer it and some don't.


So that's all for today. I hope it's been useful for you. Also, there's no force on you to make an outline. Or to choose any method from above, maybe your method would be totally different from everyone and that's alright. If it works for you, go ahead.


Until next time, Keep Writing :D


Outline Quotes Source: Writing Cooperative

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