There are some writers who do not need any preparation, they turn a random idea into a book without many steps in between. Other writers, however, need a general outline or several chapters outline to be at their best.
Whichever category you belong to, you have the same talent at your disposal, you just have to take different paths to achieve the same goal.
If you are here belong to the second category then this article is perfect for your needs.
In this article I will show you step by step how to create outlines to follow when writing your chapters.
In this way you will be able to organise the whole story and avoid trapping yourself in scenes that you later cannot get out of.
Already having an idea of what you are going to write will also help you immensely in the fight against writer’s block.
It will allow you to chase away the ’empty head’ feeling that comes when faced with a blank page, so that you can actually finish your book.
In this respect, a writing routine also helps immensely.
Of course, it is not all fun and games, you will still have to be the one to stop procrastinating and open your favourite writing software.
But still, you will take a huge burden off your shoulders once you decide the direction your story should go.
Speaking of writing software before I take you step by step through how to create a chapters outline, I want to tell you about this website loved by millions of writers.
One of the most useful writing sites there is for having everything you need ready to go.
It makes it very easy for you to go from one chapter to the next in your manuscript, but it doesn’t end there.
If you are like me, you will have tried writing the names of characters in one doc, their lives in another and the plot of the story in yet another.
And without you even realising it, every detail of your book spills over into hundreds of different documents.
Which isn’t exactly the best when you’re looking for vital information to keep you writing. (Especially if, like me, you forget your characters’ names).
There are countless times I have racked my brains searching for a precise document and Scrivener solves all these problems in a very simple way.
It provides you with all the documents next to your manuscript, so with one click everything you need will appear in front of you.
You can write comfortably and have your background material always at hand.
Once you have completed your book with all these resources, you can download it in the format you want and customise the font.
The best news is that you do not have to make a blind investment. Scrivener offers a Free Trial that lasts 30 days.
Fortunately, they take into account that a writer hardly ever writes every single day, so the days are counted according to your usage.
As the site says: “If you use it every day, it lasts 30 days; if you use it only two days a week, it lasts fifteen weeks.”
Put all your ideas on a document
Write everything down.
Whatever ideas cross your mind.
Write down dialogue that you would like to include in the manuscript, write down the scenes and what the characters are to do.
On this document you must write down everything you know so far about the story, write down what will happen and why.
This is the place where you can save from oblivion all those random ideas that come to you while you are in the shower,
All those sweet, sad and super dramatic scenes will have a chance to be in your book.
The end result will be a flood of incoherent text that you will have the opportunity to turn into something sensible in the next step.
Put ideas in order by constructing a general outline
In this document you will put in order all those strange ideas that you scattered on the paper in the previous step.
Depending on the type of structure you choose, three Act Structure, four Act Structure etc., you have to decide what happens at each point in the story.
Write down briefly what the beginning consists of, what happens in the middle, and even if you do not have a clear vision of the whole, sketch an end.
This way you will have an idea of where you are going as you write.
In this document highlight the central conflict and how it will be resolved, briefly write down the behaviour of the characters.
Take every point in the story into consideration.
The clearer and more concise you are, the easier it will be for you to write the book.
Take the general outline and divide it into chapters
Let us finally get to the point of the article. Chapter outline for writing a book.
If you have followed the steps so far, you now clearly know what will happen in your book. Or at least you have an idea.
Once you are clear, I assure you that it will be very easy to construct outlines for each chapter of the book.
Now put two screens on your computer, one where you will write the various outlines and the other where you have written the general plot.
You must have both in front of you.
Before you start ordering the scenes, you must do one very important thing, which will enable your readers to stay glued to the pages of your book.
You must decide the purpose of each chapter of your manuscript.
Do not be frightened.
It sounds more difficult than it is.
Not every chapter needs to be special, not every chapter needs to be full of action and emotion.
Giving your chapter a purpose does not mean that a character has to die in every one or that every 10 pages there has to be a declaration of love.
Take a romance novel for example.
There are chapters in which the two characters are getting to know each other and thus we see them doing common things together, and through their actions and conversations we are able to understand their feelings and fears.
These chapters are not taken into account as much as the declarations of love, or the big fights.
But they have the same importance.
Because they serve the same purpose.
That of moving the plot forward. Every single chapter has to move something, if from one chapter to the next the characters are in the exact same situation, if there hasn’t been some kind of change, you are doing something wrong.
Now that you have realised how important it is not to get muddy in your own writing, let us continue.
Write on a piece of paper…
Chapter1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 ecc.
At this time you should get an idea of how many chapters your story will contain.
Of course after you have started writing you can add or remove them freely but for now choose a number that feels right to you.
Remember that you do not need to make a paper for each chapter, an outline can consist of just a few sentences.
They serve only to remind you of the important steps and to make the chapter’s plot clear.
Let’s start with chapter 1, which will serve as an example to all the others.
Take the document in which you put your ideas in order and see how the story should begin.
Take Percy Jackson for example. If Rick Riordan used this method to write his saga, it would look something like this.
It would read ‘Percy discovers he is a half-blood in a traumatic way and arrives at the half-blood camp an orphan’.
Now the beginning of the story would be clear to Rick, in which direction his Percy must go.
He just has to decide what will happen in each chapter.
So Percy must discover that he is the son of a god, how will he find out?
Will he see a halo on his head as he brushes his teeth?
Does he spend two hours in the water and realise that if he doesn’t drown there is a problem?
Does he accidentally disintegrate his maths teacher?
All this is up to you.
Once you have chosen write down under “chapter 1” what will happen and move on to the next chapter.
It’s really simple once you enter the mood.
Step away from all distractions and dedicate yourself to the book, I am sure it will come out a masterpiece.
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Remember that writing a book is fun, it doesn’t have to become torture. Make sure you bring joy back into this art. To do this, it would help you a lot to read Rick Riordan, the master of sarcasm in writing. Have fun!
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