Publishing

How to Write A Story Outline for a Novel – The Secret to Writing Full-Proof Plots!

The biggest mistake writer’s make when writing their first novel, is forgetting to create a plot that is unbreakable. Naturally, writers will take a different road than they originally planned once the story gets going. This is natural and a completely logical course of action! However, when events within the main plot start changing authors often feel the need to change the story altogether. This is stressful and can easily be avoided. Today, I am going to show you how to write a story outline for a novel that is completely full-proof! Once you have this down, starting from scratch will be a thing of the past!

Create Your Premise

You have an idea in your head, now it’s time to transform thoughts into sentences. Crafting a great premise is simple. You just need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is the protagonist?
  • What is the situation?
  • What is the protagonist’s main objective?
  • Who/what is the antagonist?
  • What is the catastrophe that launches the story?
  • What is the struggle/conflict between the protagonist and his opponent(s)?

Write out the answers to these questions as you form your paragraph. Simon Brown’s story, the Key’s of Power, is an excellent example. The premise is as follows:

Prince Lynan (the protagonist) is ignored by his mother and is excluded from minor court duties (situation) because his father was a commoner. Lynan wants nothing more than to find anyone who has knowledge of his long-lost father (objective). After the death of his mother, Lynan is betrayed by those in power (catastrophe) and must flee for his life. Members of the court (antagonist(s)) seek him out in order to prevent Lynan from discovering his inheritance.

 

Lay Out Your Setting

Creating settings are the greatest! It allows your mind to wander and discover hidden knowledge about yourself and your creativity. But setting creation can also be a rabbit whole. It is easy to get lost with so many thoughts running through your mind. If you try to explore them all your story will never get written! So examine your premise. What setting BEST fits your character’s objective? Once that is decided, STICK WITH IT and keep going.

 

Shape Important Scenes

When you lay down at night, do you experience “out of phase moments when all you see are your characters interacting in different situations? I know I do! More often than not, the situations that haunt you are the ones that are most important to your plot. Listen to them. Sort out all your visions and start putting them down in order. Which ones are the most important? Which ones drive the plot forward the most?

 

Interview Your Leading Characters

It’s time for your characters to earn their keep! You work hard to create a life for them, and now it’s time for them to work for YOU! Set up a private area and write down a list of questions you would ask your protagonist, antagonist and “middle” characters. Imagine them in front of you and write down the first answer they give you. (The first answer that pops into your mind.) These answers will determine how your characters will react in each scene. 

 

Write A thorough/Comprehensive Outline

This may sound difficult, but it’s easier than you think! You have your premise, your setting, your scenes and your characters’ personalities. You just need to flesh- out this information in more detail. Think about your scenes. How will each character get from part A to part B? Keep asking yourself this as you go along and you will see your book take shape!

 

Eliminate Any “Weak Spots” You Find In The Outline

When your creative mind really gets going, thoughts just start pouring out! Guaranteed, you will find points in your outline that aren’t relevant once you read it over a few times. These “events” can complicate your outline and get in the way of forming your unbreakable plot. Leave the small stuff for the first draft!

 

Begin Writing Your First Draft

You’re all set. Your plot is in place. Now you have free-reign to write anything you like. If you take a different path — so what? The essence of your story will remain the same, no matter how many different ways you tell it.