This week is dedicated to preparing your novel before you start it, or “plotting.” The fourth step: make a chapter outline.
This isn’t the same thing as the outline we talked about yesterday. The Plot Outline was the bare-bones of the story: boy gets bit by spider, boy discovers super powers, boy saves the world.
A chapter outline is a more thorough description of how the events unfold. Example: boy wakes up. Boy goes to school and gets made fun of. Boy goes on field trip and gets bit by a spider.
This kind of outline lists each and every step in the book. If there’s a moment when your character looks at a tree and thinks about life, you write it down.
It’s pretty time consuming, of course. You have to reeeeealy know your book before doing this, but that’s the whole point.
I’ve never done this before, but I’m halfway done with the one for my Nano book, and I love it. I can see my book in my head so clearly. Now when I sit down to write in November, I can look at my list and say, “Today I’m going to write about my MC looking at a tree,” instead of wondering what I should do next.
It’s helpful to make a chapter outline on cards. Since I have three POV characters, I need to do a lot of scene shifting, so lay my cards out on my desk and move them around until everything looks right.
Once I’m pretty sure where I want a certain scene to be, I go into a word document and write anything that’s in my head about the scene (quotes, imagery, etc.) so I don’t forget anything.
I won’t be able to finish this step until I’m partway (maybe even halfway) through the book. Even though I know my book pretty well, one can only know so much.
I’ll keep you updated in November on how this step is working out for me. I'm pretty optimistic about it.