Writing Tips

Bringing Imagination To Life: The Perils Of Outlining Novels

Outlining novels looks easy, but it is not. It’s full of second guessing, procrastination and confusion. Yet oddly enough, there is also excitement and pride. It’s thrilling to bring your deeply cherished concept to life. In the novel I’m currently outlining, I often surprise myself with how much I am enjoying the creative process. However, I am also insecure about my novel. Because of that, I thought I’d write a blog post about outling novels, and what I’ve learned so far.

The major lesson is this: you will rewrite your outline. Alot.

This one shocks me. I always pictured novelists such as J.K. Rowling as being calm and looking out at the Scottish highlands from a train. How wrong am I! Outlining your novel is anything but a serene experience. Once you outline the raw structure of your novel, you develop a nasty sense of having no clue of what you are doing. Yes- it’s completely normal. But it’s also frustrating.

Depth of your outline is also important to consider.

Personally, I like my outlines to be indepth. This is because it avoids procrastinating during the writing stage. Adding onto that, my outlines are often multiple paragraphs per chapter. Some writers only have a single sentence or word for each chapter! And you know what? That’s alright. Writers have their own process, and I personally benefit from a structure.

That being said, I recommend new writers to consider working with an outline for their first few stories. This is because outlining gives the writing process a nice structure.

With my outline, I’m writing in quotes I imagine the characters to say, motives, actions, locations as well as the novels philosophy and themes. I like doing this, because it helps me imagine the story and bring it to life.

It’s just very confusing!

For example, I’m giving my protagonist and my antagonist opposing philosophies. This is common amongst works of fiction. For instance, in The Dark Knight, the Joker represents chaos, whilst Batman represents order and justice. I’m trying a similar dynamic in my novel, with parallel themes of submission and control. This has inspired me to dig deeper into philosophy, and to consider religious and theological perspectives.

I have pretty ambitious ideas for my novel, with topical themes such as redemption, justice, family, childhood and higher beings. Also, I think I know what I want to say- but I don’t know how to say it! Adding onto that, I believe alot of writers struggle to express their ideas, so I know I’m not alone.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. What about everyone else? How do you outline your novels? Any tips you’d love to share? Please comment below!

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