I’m back with the first revised post in The Path to Publication series. This series will detail the steps from pre-outlining and beyond to get you to a place where you have a publishable novel. It will be a weekly series, and I’m excited to see how it goes. I hope you all find these tips and tricks as helpful as I have.
Today’s topic is pre outlining, a subject that I have already talked about, but today I’m going to get more in depth. My pre outlining is quite extensive, so I’ve chosen to break it into two posts. The next one should be out next Friday.
Pre outlining is usually the first step I take after I’ve picked out my next novel idea and let it simmer in my brain. Even if you don’t outline, pre outlining can still be a helpful step so that you have a slight idea of what you’re going to write before you actually start your first draft.
The first thing I do when I pre outline is write down all of the things that I know will happen in my book. It’s usually about four or five pages of scenes and major events that will take place in my book. The reason this is helpful is that it puts all of the ideas for your book in one spot, and gives you a good idea of where to go from there.
Here is an example of how I write all the general ideas for my plot from my work in progress, By Night:
1. Alice has a strained relationship with about everyone in her kingdom, including her parents, the king and queen, because of the tragic accident she caused that killed her beloved older sister, Victoria.
But you can format them however you want, this is just what worked for me.
Next I take a highlighter and highlight all parts of ideas, characters, or settings that need more fleshing out. This helps develop your story and fill in some of the plot holes, and gives you things to brainstorm. For instance, one of the things I had to flesh out was the mid-point of my story, which I will talk more in-depth about soon.
Then I make a list of all the highlighted ideas, characters, and settings, and brainstorm each one. I write down whatever comes to mind, whether it be brilliant or kind of silly. I start with writing out what specifically I want to brainstorm.
For example, for the mid-point I wrote out that I knew I wanted to have an epic battle on one of the estates, and that there were specific secrets I wanted revealed, and I knew that there were a couple specific characters that I needed to die for thematic impact and for the story’s greater good in general, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.
So what I do next is just write all the ideas that come to mind to untangle that great mess, and when I finally come up with a proper solution, I write it out neatly so I can come back to it later and understand my notes.
That is all for today, come back next Friday for the second part of my pre outlining process which includes figuring out my plot points and creating a story timeline (an outline for my outline.) Leave a comment letting me know if you pre outline, and if any of these tips helped you. Thanks so much and sorry for the late post.