How I Outline

I’ve made plenty of outlining posts like this in the past. However, things change.

I think we all prepare for our novels differently depending on the project. So I thought I would share how I outlined for my Camp NaNoWriMo project, The Lost Girl.

I decided to outline The Lost Girl differently than how I normally outline.

When I was younger, I never really understood the amount of time, effort, and thinking creating a story took. So when I outlined, I simply wrote “summaries” for each chapter.

That’s how I decided to outline The Lost Girl.

I haven’t outlined like this in a long time, but I’ve had this story idea in my head for quite a few months now. Since the summer, I think.

I decided a while ago that I was going to write this story for Camp NaNoWriMo instead of trying to squeeze it in somewhere along with my edits of George Florence. Needless to say, that’s a long time to put a project on hold when you have a thousand ideas for it swimming in your head.

So I’ve been jotting down notes and writing ideas here and there. Because of this, I decided the easiest way to outline this novel would be to summarize each chapter in order.

Lately, with most of my projects, I’ve been outlining using index cards and post-it notes. I think I may do that as I write the story during April.

I can use the summarized chapters as a guideline and then I can write down what actually happens, scene by scene on post-it notes, to make the editing process go a whole lot smoother.

It sounds confusing now that I’m explaining it, but I think it will work out. If it does, I may just have to combine the two methods for all my novels.

How do you outline any of your projects?

You may also enjoy…
My Planning Process
Outlining: Tips and Ideas


21 thoughts on “How I Outline

  1. Hmmm I used to be a spider diagram person with chapter summaries for each chapter, breaking into the characters appearing in each chapter.

    For my NaNo take, since it’s a short story, my outline is very erratic and all over the place. I jot down each idea on a piece of paper and then expand on each idea on a new piece of paper and then join them all over together…
    Chaos. I know.

    • To me, I think doing webs for outlines would get confusing. I like it all in one place and uniformed. But that’s just me.
      It’s hard to outline for short stories. I think you just kind of have to go with it, lol.

  2. I’m a chronic planner. I do character bios, special item write ups, and brief story summaries. Once I get to writing the book, I do a scene by scene list that inevitably gets changed as I go along. Oddly simplistic now that I think about it.

  3. I write summaries for each chapter in my WIP too, though I write them below each chapter heading on my computer so I don’t have to search for my index cards or written notes before I write, lol. I hope you enjoy writing The Lost Girl during Camp NanoWrimo. 🙂

  4. I have a chapters summary going, which I’m using to sort out the overall pacing and structure, and a separate PowerPoint with different world building things on each slide.

    • That’s a good idea to use PowerPoint. I’ve never thought of that. I think chapter summaries is one of the easiest ways to outline.
      Good luck!

  5. I’ve used different methods for every book. *dies* Shifters & Mages book three is just a bulleted list of the main things I want to happen in the novel.

    I used index cards to outline each chapter for book two, detailing the main events with a couple of lines of info underneath if necessary. I wanted to do a blog post where I showed this method, but I lost the index cards. I’m pretty certain they got mixed up with paperwork I was tossing…

    For the first book, I did as you’re doing for The Lost Girl.

    For my anthology submission, “Changeling”, I did a bubble map, and for my other anthology submission, “Sunrise, Sunset”, I just wrote after writing a blurb.

    Each novel/story uses a different method. 😉

    • It definitely depends on the project you’re working on. 🙂 Though I have to say that I’ve been pretty consistent with my outlining methods.

  6. Sounds similar to what I do now – I write the first draft with no outline and as I finish each chapter I write a summary and the collate the summaries at the end giving me an outline to work from

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