Preptober // The Benefits of Outlining a Novel

Oh hey there



Today we will be talking about outlining a novel! This post isn’t going to be the most helpful for the pantsers out there but I hope that this sincerely helps a lot of writers, just as much as it has helped me!

A lot of very well known authors will say that they swear by their novel outlines and that some of the most intricately written novels, have outlines triple the size! So if anything, that is a great indicator of how useful a good outline can be! Here is the list of things that I do every time I sit down with a new novel idea!
How To OutlineA Novel

Benefits of Outlining a Novel:
– You can get organized before you start writing, making it way easier to stay on track with word counts and goals and the original ideas!
– Helps you stay on the path that so easily deviated when writing a novel, ESPECIALLY MYSTERY OR FANTASY!
– Gives you a layout of what should go where.

From my experience, I have only been successful when writing outlines in document format, a lot of writers will swear by the post-it method shown above, or the cue card method, but I am personally great with a document of key points that I have to hit. This being said, I am going to be trying the post-it method in the form of scrivener this year! So we’ll see how that goes!

The good thing about cue cards or post-its is that they can be laid out and viewed in mass. If you have a large wall that is unoccupied, post its and walls make amazing storyboards. Also whiteboards or chalkboards! Its all about the BIG picture! The good thing about this is that it is not only organized but it is also motivational! Just think, every time you finish a key point you get to go and tear that sticky note down. Could you imagine the anticipation of the wall during the last chapter, gah it makes my mouth water!

If you don’t have experience writing with an outline, maybe this year is the year to give it a shot! I am going to be talking more later on about what exactly to include in an outline but for now, you just need to think about characters! THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART! 

So I’m going to leave you with that, and I really encourage you to pull out a fresh notepad and start brainstorming ONLY your characters. Don’t give them too much backstory yet, I just want you to talk about them, their mannerisms, their appearance, some brief family history! That’s it! That’s all!

Leave me a comment below with some cool ways that you outline your novels!

mazie bones

Prep-tember//Asking Why

Oh hey there

I’m super excited about this post, as its the first post to kick off my Preptember Writers Series! This topic has been one that I’ve been pondering for a while now and it all kind of started on our car ride home from vacation. For a while now, my partner and I have been kind of jokingly pulling together this plot of a book that neither of us planned on writing. I want to say that this ongoing joke started in the beginning of our relationship and it’s just been growing and getting more and more ridiculous the more we brought it up. But when we embarked on our 7 hour drive home from Magnetawan we eventually ran out of road trip games to play and we slowly transitioned into talking about our plot idea but in a more serious manner.

The longer we drove, the more real the story seemed; it became something kind of possible, and kind of awesome. So we have kind of decided to collaborate this idea. He isn’t a writer, so I’ll be doing all of that, but his skill with plotting and storyline is kind of remarkable. It really is a gift. Which is kind of what inspired me to write this post about asking yourself or your characters “Why?”

As we went on developing our story, I kept asking him different questions, but most of them were starting with “Why?” Why are they fighting? Why do they need to get there? Why are they running? Why is she alone? Why a giraffe? 

Whenever I asked why I was worried that he would get defensive of his story, I was worried that asking why would seem like I was challenging the ideas, but that wasn’t the case. Whenever we asked why we opened up the floor for some of the best reasoning and discussions. The other questions worked but none of them produced conversation like our “Why” questions. I think that asking why is a question that challenges a plot, and as long as it’s yourself or your beta-readers challenging your plot, I think it’s fine. you should be able to defend your plot, but more importantly, you shouldn’t have to.

So as a way to avoid having to answer questions later, answer questions now, while you’re writing, or before you even open that new idea.

What I wish we did was record that discussion, because we would have had 2 hours of the purest plot details and background information that we could possibly get and we might not ever have those true and blatant answers ever again, which is fine, we’ll get there eventually, but it was such an amazing conversation.

Another thing that I learned about myself as a writer while discussing this plot with Drew, was that having a partner or friend to sound board off of, or having someone to ask or answers questions with is SO helpful. If you have a friend that you can confide in and trust your ideas with, I would definitely recommend having a little Q&A!


What is your favourite question to ask yourself or your characters? Do you find asking questions helps you develop your plots, or does it take the fun out of it for you?

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more Prep-tember posts in the future,

mazie bones


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