After you have decided on your book’s subject matter and chosen a prospective title and sub-title, it’s time to sit down and draw the outline for your book.
It is best to create your outline before you begin to write. Authors easily get off track and lose focus on their real objectives.
The benefits to outlining your story:
An outline can help the writer collect and keep information in proper order and prevent it from being repeated in a non-fiction script. With fiction writing, creating an outline helps you keep the plot in order and more easily develop your characters. Outlining your script creates an easy-to-follow roadmap to your finished and “complete” book project.
How to create a basic outline:
Every manuscript contains an introduction, information, and conclusion, in other words, a beginning, middle, and ending. To start, define each of these categories in relation to your book idea. For instance, a non-fiction book on stress relief may begin with “what is stress.” The middle text may explain “how to relieve stress.” The ending may finish with “now that you are stress free…”
For a fiction book, the beginning may open by developing your characters and their place within your story. The middle is your story line or plot, and the ending is where your story concludes.
Once you have established these elements to your book, you can begin filling in the chapter titles according to the order of your story’s events. Choose titles which are clear and define the content of that particular chapter; especially for non-fiction books. Compile your chapters and organize them in a logical order.
When your story goes in a new direction, form a new chapter or sub-chapter to avoid the sudden shift of information. Readers know when they come to a new chapter or sub-chapter; the information will evolve into something a little different. Remember, chapter tiles and sub-titles can be changed up until the time of book submission or production.
When your chapter list is complete, I suggest obtaining a large white poster board and drawing your outline on it. Leave space between the chapter titles for new sub-chapters and late add-ons. The board should be set up in your writing space. Having your outline continually in your sight will help keep you focused. As you compose your manuscript, refer to your outline often.
If you are submitting your manuscript to a traditional publishing house, they will most likely require a chapter by chapter outline of your story. The outline you build to write your manuscript will be helpful in creating a suitable outline for your publishers’ submission package. Your outline can be used to build your table of contents page as well.
Once you have a complete outline finished, it’s time to begin “filling in the blanks.” With a proper and orderly outline of your story, you can flow through your writing process with confidence and ease.
Recommended related information online:
Creating an Outline & Table of Contents
Steps to Creating a Well-Constructed Plot Outline
Carol Denbow is the author of Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss? (2006 Plain & Simple Books, LLC); Stress Relief for the Working Stiff (summer 2008 Publish America); and A Book Inside, Writing, publishing, and selling your story (Summer 2008 Plain & Simple Books, LLC). To receive her monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.plainandsimplebooks.com/85/index.html.