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How I create an Outline

by Ember Joy 10 months ago in how to

My little guide to outlining a novel

How I create an Outline

Gathering Thoughts:

You take a few days, possibly even a couple of weeks to brainstorm your ideas and you can gather them by doing something mind-numbing and that requires absolute focus like painting, puzzles, knitting, sports. Something to distract you.

Ask yourself: 'What if this could happen', 'What is that was real, 'What are the dangers,' and 'What could go wrong' to any story idea. Think about things that are simply impossible. Flying, mermaids, arranged marriage, dragons, super powers, everything.

J.K. Rowling came up with 'Harry Potter' while at a bus station.

Stephanie Meyer came up with the idea of 'Twilight' from a dream

Inspiration struck for The Hobbit author when he was marking exam papers

Agatha Christie's world-famous female sleuth, Miss Marple, was inspired by her own grandmother

A war report on TV fuelled Suzanne Collins' smash hit series The Hunger Games

You can even change the scene: pick a place you love from past or present. Change the scenery every day. When I needed ideas, I would take long walks in the woods, change my work space, or even spend hours watching my favorite tv shows/movies/music videos for ideas. I look at fantasy images and other things that interest me.


Writing them Down:

Collect all your thoughts on sticky notes, note cards, random paper sheets; anything to write down every thought. Collect these notes and with every idea, try to expand on it.

If it's a scene; where would it best fit? Dialogue; who would say that? A creature; what is it?

If you have a story idea, take the thought and ask it a series of questions:

1) What if this could happen at this time at this place?

2) What is that was really in this world?

3) What are the dangers of the situation?

4) What could go wrong if you don't/do it?

5) What type of people would fit in this world?

6) Can I expand these characters and give them the attention they deserve?

7) Can I expand this idea into a Novella? Novel? Short Story? Trilogy? Series? Poem? Anything?

When you are done, you can start the outlining. For me personally; I would write a 1-2 page outline of each chapter, each scene I want in there while doing RESEARCH. I write down creature ideas, plot points, sub-plots, character ideas, anything and everything having to do with the idea I have chosen.

If you get extra ideas that also pass the question test? Fuck you, good luck. LOL. JK.

If you have extra ideas, get a small notebook or notepad and spend a day or two writing down all you want to do with that idea. Get only one notepad, notebook, flash cards, sticky note pile per book and make sure you organize all the files.



You have to research everything you want to do in the idea. Like if you have a school full of superheros: study Movies, Building Blueprints, Comics, novels, and web searches. Movies and Comics like X-Men.

If you are writing about vampire? Study vampires? Find ways to make them different. Same with romance, culture, languages, landscapes; if you want to do something, take time to study them. Anywhere from a few days to a few months.

If you have to do it WHILE writing your book, keep something by you like a notepad or open a sticky note/word document to write down important things you want to add or remember for later.

I prefer to hand-write because ink is expensive.


Type them Out:

After procrastination, writers block, tears, sweat, anger, and disappointment I would take all the notes and start the outline from the first thing you want written; prologue, chapter; to the end of the book. Separate the chapters and take the time to add little details that you want to be in each book, to be in every chapter.

This process can take weeks even months to finish. Picking fonts and choosing points for writing is how it gets started.


Motivation and Tips:

- No novel was written in a day. Take time and space it out.

-Make a scheduled and stick to it. It make sound cliche but making writing a habit is important. Try to spend at least 3 hours writing whether notes or ideas or chapters or something. Just write

- Take the time to understand and develop your characters: they are really important. The most important if you ask me.

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Ember Joy
Ember Joy
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