Fiction is an entirely different animal. Some authors will outline an entire book, some will only outline basic plot points, and other authors don’t outline at all. When you are first starting out, you have to discover what method works best for you and that means some trial and error.
I have to outline my nonfiction books. When I do, the outlines become so full of notes that writing the actual book is a breeze. With my fiction books, I work with a very basic plot point outline telling myself that I am starting here and going to this point to the next point and eventually to the conclusion.
Whatever you are planning to write, nonfiction or fiction, these book outlining tips can be used and experimented with right now.
1. Plain Page Outlining
Forget about those ridiculous outlining formats you were taught in school. Forget what gets numbered, alphabetized, and indented. Simply open up a blank page in Word, TextEdit, or whatever you write in, and write a basic title at the top of the page. Beneath the title, write a summery or purpose of your book. Beneath that, write out plot points or, if you are writing nonfiction, section headings.
Some writers swear by this method of outlining and some of us just can’t get into it. The only way to find out if this method will work for you is to try it out.
Using notecards to plot out a book is old school stuff, but it still works. I used notecards for many years before I switched over to plain page outlining on my computer and it worked wonderfully. What you do is put one plot point or section heading onto each card. You can add notes underneath and rearrange the cards in the order you desire.
4. Outlining Software
Software is available to outline your novel. Scrivener is a popular outlining and book writing tool for Mac and PC users. Other outlining software includes Microsoft OneNote (PC) and Dramatica Pro (Mac and PC).
5. Snowflake Method
I tested out this method and absolutely loved it even though I don’t use it as often as I should. The snowflake method is used for plotting out a work of fiction. It exposes plot holes that you might not have seen if you used some of the other plotting methods.
To learn more about the snowflake method, visit How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.