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Developing an Outline For Your Novel

March 1st, 2019

If you’ve read my Student of the Year 2019 Runner-up story, you’ll know that I’m finally nearing the end of the Comprehensive Creative Writing Course. It’s been an exciting and insightful journey, and I’ve learned many useful things along the way. In that time I’ve also been lucky enough to secure paid work with a number of online publications, writing articles about theme park resorts, travel guides, film locations and film reviews. But the reason I enrolled in the first place was because of my dream of becoming an author.

There’s no denying that we all have different methods when it comes to crafting a novel. Some of us jump straight in at the deep end while others (like myself) prefer to develop outlines, staying in the shallows before moving into the deeper waters of actual writing. Of course, there’s no right or wrong way because it all comes down to individual preference. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the fiction assignments, it’s that knowing your story inside out means you’re more likely to not only make a meaningful start, but actually stick to it.

I’m yet to have any novels published, however, in 2017 I started writing a Ghostbusters fan-fiction novel as a way to consolidate what I had learned up until that point. In deciding to build an outline for the story I was able to identify and eliminate plot holes and inconsistencies, develop meaningful characters and strengthen their arcs, work on the pacing and structure and even visualise the story and its themes in their entirety. One of the greatest benefits of this meant not having to make major changes to existing prose, which I tend to find quite disheartening.

But while the fan-fiction project has involved just as much planning as any other novel, Wild Christmas will actually be my first book and will be aimed at children (although I’m a firm believer that a good children’s book can be enjoyed by adults too). My blog Curious Rookie is where I usually share film and book reviews as well as flash fiction, but going forward I’ll also be using the platform to discuss Wild Christmas as it unfolds. And thanks to what I now consider to be a pretty robust outline, that journey is already underway.

I highly recommend developing an outline to anyone who’s in doubt about how to approach their novel. It can serve as an excellent point of reference as you write and an incredible tool to help you build the strongest version of your story. And like me, it might just give you the encouragement, direction and confidence to not only make a start, but to keep on going.

 

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