by Becca C. Smith
Outlining is one of those tools that authors either use religiously or are adamantly against. I am in the outlining club, simply because my brain is way too scattered to write without one. If I didn’t use an outline I guarantee nothing I wrote would make any sense and I might as well title all my books “Tangent Central.”
For those of you who want to take a stab at outlining, this is how I do it in 5 easy steps.
1. Decide how long your book is going to be.
Word count. For me, it’s usually between 60k-100k.
2. Decide how many chapters your book will have and divide that number by your word count.
This will give you an estimate as to how long each chapter will be. For example, if my word count estimate is 60k and I want the book to have 20 chapters, then each chapter will be approximately 3,000 words.
3. Type out each chapter title in a document with no descriptions yet.
This will be the base of your outline.
4. Write short sentence descriptions of approximately where you want your major events to take place.
This is where you’ll type in all the major scenes you’ve been kicking around your head since you thought of your story idea. Such as where you want a character to die, or where you want them to commit to the journey, or where you want the resolution to start.
5. Once you have the key events in place, fill in the other chapters with short sentences that lead up to that event.
Doing it this way helps the brain work out how you want to get your characters to certain places in your story. Sometimes we get bogged down in key scenes and have no idea what the glue is that will bind it all together. For me, laying out the basics in the position I want them visually, helps me figure out how my characters will get there.
Everyones' process is different and there is no right or wrong way to write a book. This is just how I do it :-)
Hope it helps!