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A Novel Outline: Part II (Results & Guide)

Hello! Remember that time long, long ago when I said I was going to write a novel outline? And that I would post about said novel outline on Tuesday, September 24th? Well, today’s September 24th. And I’ve written a novel outlinemore or less.


First thing’s first

Did I finish a complete novel outline? Absolutely not. But did I write a 30-page outline covering the first 21 chapters? I sure did. And that counts as a victory for me (well, like a half a victory. I’ll take it.)

But did you learn anything?

Absolutely. Originally, I believe I was hesitant to outline an entire novel because I thought I’d lose the excitement of not knowing where a draft would take me. But it turns out those same “aha!” moments can occur in a novel outline just as frequently as they occur in a novel draft.

So you enjoyed this?

Yes 😊. It’s been motivating to see the novel take shape. Writing can sometimes seem intimidating when you’re staring at the blank page of a new chapter (did the character leave the light on in the last chapter? Was there a light in the room? What color were her socks?) Being able to quickly scroll up and reassess what you’ve written before really helps keep the story in perspective.

So you’ll finish the outline?

Absolutely. I hope to finish it by the end of the week. But I also hope to finish The Everlasting Rose by the end of the week because it. Is. So. Good.

What’s the novel outline look like, anyway?

Well, I went into this without a guide. The form of the outline will likely change as I make edits, but this is what it includes at the moment:

General Information:

  • Stats (Word Count + Genre)
  • Pitches
    • Elevator Pitch
    • Extended Pitch
  • Stakes
    • Protagonist One
      • External Stakes
      • Internal Stakes
    • Protagonist Two
      • External Stakes
      • Internal Stakes
  • Tone
  • Worldbuilding
    • World mechanics
    • Atmosphere and setting
    • Primary locations
  • Characters (main and secondary)
    • 5-7 adjectives describing the characters (personality)
    • One-sentence description
  • Barriers and conflicts (for the protagonists)
    • Backstory
    • Personal motivations
  • Character descriptions (physical)
  • Subplots
    • Short key phrases
    • 2-4 short paragraphs for each subplot
  • Imagery and themes

Chapters:

  • One-sentence summary
  • Extended summary (bullet points)
  • Chapter goals (bullet points)
  • Does this chapter advance the main plot?
  • Does this chapter advance the subplots?
  • What does protagonist A want?
  • What does protagonist B want?
  • How are their wants complicated?
  • Does the chapter have high stakes for the chapter?
  • Does the chapter have high stakes for the overall book?

And that’s that. If you’re wondering why I have two protagonists, it’s because the novel has a third person POV that switches between two characters carrying roughly the same weight.

Until next time!

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