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Outline Your Way To Your First Novel!

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

You've come up with an idea. The first twenty pages flew off the keyboard. The hard part is over right? Not for me it wasn't and probably not for most writers. As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "Easy reading is damn hard writing." For me, nothing helped to finish writing my books as much as an outline.

How, you say? Well, start off basic- really basic. Lay out the book chapter by chapter. Use the outline to add in notes, ideas, character quirks, really anything you want to incorporate into your chapters.


I. Premise- write out your story idea.

II. Determine your novel's setting. It can be as important as your protagonist.

A. Place

1.) Details

B. Time

III. Characters

A. Protagonist

1.) Background

B. Supporting Characters

IV. Plot your timeline of events.

Use an outline to help layout your story from start to finish

Not only is it a fantastic tool in helping you figure out your story, develop your world, add characters, lose characters, create conflict, sketch out gray areas and add tension, but more importantly outlines help you stay focused.

My first attempt at writing a book went off the tracks. I thought I would just wing it, and let the story take me wherever my creativity said it should go. Big mistake. 300,000 words later and I realized I'd written the ramblings of a madwoman. Needless to say it was never published.

Okay, so now, as you get farther into the process of writing your novel it is time to elaborate on your new outline by expanding from just basic story ideas to defining each chapter.


I. Chapter One- small paragraph describing the chapter

A. Story ideas

1.) notes

B. Plot twists

II. Chapter Two- paragraph about what chapter is about

A. Story ideas or notes

Outlines aren't for every writer but they certainly are a great resource for those of us who can use a little structure.

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