How To Create A Plot Outline
Before the fame, wealth, book signings and fans that accompany the success of your first novel, there is the grueling process of actually penning the whole thing down that needs to be done.
However, no matter how well thought and organized the story is in your head – you could often find yourself a victim of writer’s block or unable to flesh out a narrative fit for a novel. While most people would consider the process of writing as an act of creativity to be undertaken only while ‘in the zone’, you will find that they are quite mistaken.
To avoid finding yourself at a loss for words and ensuring that your book doesn’t have to go through regressive editing – the best course of action to undertake is to flesh out your plot before beginning the actual process. Despite the arguments over whether it is a liberating or confining process, nobody can deny the ease of having everything laid out clearly in front of your eyes.
I promise it won’t deter your creativity, but rather enhance and create a full proof environment for your writing to flourish.
1) Craft a premise
Being able to summarize your idea in a sentence or two is only half the battle won. Now that the crux of the plot is in your head, it’s time to be able to answer a few basic questions.
For example – A is a young boy struggling to find his purpose in life. After many attempts in vain with his faithful friend by his side, he finally discovers his passion and lives happily ever after.
To build up on this, there are various aspects you need to consider.
- Who is A? What makes him who he is? Why is he facing those issues?
- Who are the secondary characters going to be?
- When and where is this story going to be set? (Past, Present, Future/America, UK, India)
- What are the obstacles in his path?
- How is he going to overcome them and what is going to be the end goal?
Once you have been able to answer these questions, you will definitely have a more clarified idea of what your novel is going to look like.
2) Explore different settings
The setting of a story will inevitably play a big role in determining what path and obstacles each and every character has to face. For example, if the above plot idea was set in the future; the character as well as his obstacles would be vastly different than if it was during the Victorian Era.
A rookie mistake to avoid however, is picking a setting simply because it is familiar or even cool/trending at that point. Writing is all about creativity, and with the Internet being what it is today there is no information that cannot be accessed with a little bit of research. Brainstorm and push the limits of your creativity till you find a story and setting that excites you!
3) Check for loopholes
This is a step that most authors tend to ignore, or believe will get resolved in the previous setting or even in the course of writing the novel. However, if you discover a gaping plot hole or discrepancy in your writing almost halfway through your work – it is both an immense amount of wasted and added work combined with disappointment.
In order to avoid that, it would be better to scan your plot thoroughly a few times, as well as take a second or even third trusted opinion.
4) Condense your outline
Once your ideas are set in stone and all your questions answered – it’s time to flesh out the outline. How comprehensive or otherwise you want it to be, depends entirely on you, and it’s important to bear in mind that this isn’t a draft but merely your first outline.
It’s possible that you may find yourself unable to progress in a linear manner, and there’s nothing wrong in jumping scenes and working your way backwards. This step essentially would help you sift away unnecessary twists and details while making sure the plot is still plausible. Once your scenes are in order and you have the basic foundation ready, writing becomes a whole lot easier as all you have to do is let your words fill in the blanks!
Does this even need any explanation? Remember that at the most basic level, your plot outline is mostly going to be a simple three act structure. Making sure everything from the actual story to facts and characters are accurate at this stage will save you a lot of grief in the future.
Of course, there’s always an editor waiting here at PaperTrue to provide you with the exact expert opinion you’re looking for. The first step to realizing your dream is not necessarily the hardest, and we’re here to prove just that!
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