The Path to Publication Step Three: Pre-Outlining

Pre-outlining is a very important step in your novel writing process. This step helps you flesh out your novel idea and get to know your characters. Though you have already determined that you want to keep your novel idea, this step also helps you determine if you still like my novel idea.
1. Read my post on knowing if your novel idea is right for you.
2. Write what you think you might go on the back cover so you have a clear idea to work towards.
Before you write your blurb, take some of your favorite novels from your shelf and read their blurbs. What does the blurb do right? What does the blurb do wrong? How does the blurb leave you wanting to read the novel? In your blurb, make sure to include your character, the setting, the story problem, and end in such a way that leaves people wanting to read your book.
3. Next, list your three plot points.
If you don’t know what a plot point is, it’s a major turning point in your novel. The first plot point usually occur around 15%-25% of the way through your novel, or even less. To use an example from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first plot point occurs when Harry finds out he’s a wizard. The second plot point happens half way through you novel, and the third around 75% of the way through your novel. I will do an in depth look at plot points next.
4. Write down numbers one through ten, each on its own line.
Write down your first plot point on numbers two or three, your second on five, and your third on seven or eight. Fill in the others with scenes that are important in the book, and make the plot points happen. Add foreshadowing to make the plot points believable. This can also be called the brief outline.
5. Learn about your characters.
If you would rather get to know your characters as you write, that’s okay. Just so you know enough about them to make them unique. But if you want to know more about your character, K.M. Weiland has a great character information sheet on her site:, and countless others have sheets for your characters as well.
6. Outline the ending.
You need to know what you’re writing and foreshadowing to, so you can write a believable novel.
Okay, that’s all! Next week I’ll be writing about plot points that I talked about in step three.
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