Why I Love Outlining My Novels

If you know me then you know that I enjoy the outlining process. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, but I thought I’d do a post about why I love outlining my novels.

Why I Love Outlining My Novels | Outlines | novel writing | creative writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

There are many different reasons why I love outlining my novels, but there’s one in particular that really makes me happy.

It keeps me organized.

Again, if you know me then you know that I’m a very organized person. I enjoy having a schedule or routine to follow. I enjoy cleaning and I love having a designated spot for everything. This goes for my writing as well.

I love outlining my novels because it keeps me organized – the novel itself and my thoughts. Outlining gives me a spot for a list of characters, locations, plot points, dialogue ideas, and everything in between.

My favorite part about outlining is that it helps me organize the general structure of the novel. Sometimes I summarize each chapter in a notebook, other times I use sticky-notes and index cards to plot the novel scene by scene, plot point by plot point.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a novel – we all work in our own way and at our own pace. For me, however, staying organized with your novel is key to completing that first draft, editing, and beyond. Staying organized in the beginning really makes things easier in the long run.

How do I stay organized?

I break my novels up into the stages of the creative writing process. I have a notebook for research and general notes plus a poster. (Or sometimes I just tape card stock together because who really wants to leave the house and go to the store?) Sometimes I’ll have an Excel sheet or Word document filled with bullet points and charts, but I’m old school. I like having pen and paper.

My first draft is written on the computer as if all the other drafts. I have an accordion folder to hold all the drafts as well as file folder to hold onto the current draft I’m on because I always hand edit.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t always look so pretty. I do have to organize and re-organize now and again. Still, it helps me and it looks nice inside the filing cabinet and on my shelves.

Long story short, outlining helps my novel itself stay organized. I mean, the outline is more like a guideline and changes a lot, but it still helps a lot.

Are you generally organized? Do you enjoy outlining your novels? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Two Purposes Outlining Your Novel Serves

Outlining is a hit or miss for some people. Some find it helpful while others think of it as an unnecessary step. Why plan when you can just jump right into the writing? Everyone works differently and there’s no wrong way to write your own novel. I personally find outlining super helpful. The way I see it, there are two purposes outlining your novel serves.

Two Purposes Outlining Your Novel Serves | Outlining a novel | novel writing | creative writing | writing tips | Writing Blog | RachelPoli.com

1. Before: Ideas

Whether you believe in writer’s block or not, we all get stuck on our writing now and again. You can get stuck on any part of the creative writing process – you may struggle with ideas, the middle of your story, a certain character might give you trouble… there’s a lot of baggage that comes with writing a novel.

This is going to sound obvious, but one thing that the outline really helps with is ideas for your novel. If you outline before, ideas tend to come easier. At least, they do for me.

Outlining is kind of like a brainstorming session. Sometimes I’ll outline by summarizing what may happen in each chapter. I’ll think of something to happen in chapter three and then that particular thing will spiral into another idea or another action or thought for one of the characters. This may happen for chapter four or chapter 12. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, ideas spark as you write the first draft as well, but I also felt as though outlining gave you more ideas to play around for the first draft. That’s the great thing about ideas – they change and they improve.

2. After: Editing

Editing has always been difficult for me and it can seem like such a chore. Outlining beforehand has always helped me with the editing process later.

Having an outline while I edit is great because if I need to take a look at a certain part of the novel or forget when something happens, I can turn to my outline. I use to spend a long time scrolling up and down, pressing CTRL+F in my document, and scanning all the written words for one particular sentence or scene. With an outline, it’s easy for me to look it up that way. In a way, an outline is kind of like an index of my novel. I jot down notes and summaries as I write each chapter. It works for me.

All in all, outlines do a lot. They don’t work with everyone, but I do think there are many different ways to go about a outline. Something will work for everyone.

Do you agree with me? Are there any other reasons outlines work for you? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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My Camp NaNoWriMo Projects [April 2018]

My Camp NaNoWriMo Projects | April 2018 | Camp NaNo | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

It’s Camp NaNoWriMo time! As usual, I overbooked myself. Camp is so flexible with projects and word counts that I decided to get as much done as possible. Of course, I had forgotten I’m going on vacation in the middle of the month… Still, any progress is progress so I’m keeping my goals. Challenge accepted.

  • Edit George Florence – Change of plans with this one. I was going to rewrite the draft. I thought it was already edited, but apparently, just the first chapter was edited. Good job, Rachel.
  • Write Perplexed – My goal to write one more short story for this mystery collection.
  • Write Short Story Sunday – For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Camp NaNo to write the flash fiction for this blog in bulk. I have 27 more stories to write for 2018 so I plan on finishing them all.
  • Outline Brave (working title) – My next Wattpad story is another fantasy, though it won’t be anything like The Scribe. There will be dragons and it’ll be great.
  • Publish Take Over – My second Wattpad story will be going live on Monday, April 23. It’s all set to go, but since I’ll be going on vacation for a week and there’s no schedule button on Wattpad (that I’ve seen at least) I decided to wait until the end of the month. So look forward to that!

So, yeah. April is going to be a busy month when it comes to writing. I created a calendar and decided what to work on each day and I calculated the daily word count out so I can miss a week due to my vacation.

But I’ll be talking more about that calendar tomorrow… Wish me luck!

What are you writing this month? How’s Camp going so far? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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My NaNoWriMo 2017 Writing Project

Another year has come and gone. And no, I don’t mean 2017. I mean NaNo is just around the corner.

I’m excited to get back into NaNo. I feel like my writing has been short this past year. I’ve really only written anything during the NaNo months. I’ve slowly been fixing that, but NaNo is when I’m the most productive. I think it’s the “competition” of my writing buddies that really makes me go.

My NaNoWriMo 2017 Project

While I have so many novels written that need editing, I feel weird not writing anything new for NaNo.

I’ve been on Wattpad for a long time now. I’ve been wanting to post a story or two on there and I just… haven’t. So, I plan on writing a novel/novella during NaNo. I’ll give that one or two rounds of edits and then post it on Wattpad. My goal is to have it published sometime in January.


This past August, I posted an interactive Short Story Sunday where you, my readers, got to vote on what should happen next in the story.

I got a lot of positive feedback on the story and a few people have asked me to continue it. It was a story idea that I had debated on expanding. I’ve decided I’m going to continue it.

Meredith’s story was wrapped up in those four parts, but I know how it will continue with her roommate, Paige, and the Professor.

I plan on outlining it in October, writing it in November, editing it in December, and then publishing it on Wattpad in January. We’ll see how well that works out, but that’s the plan for now.

“Special” is a working title where the Professor will continue to pawn off his special notebook hoping to choose the “correct” person to handle its power. The power can be good or bad, depending on how who uses it and how they use it. Where the notebook came from, no one seems to know. The Professor seems to know more than what he lets on. We’ll just have to see what Paige decides to do with the power.

I’m still outlining the story now so more information on the story itself will come at the end of the month.

I’m looking forward to expanding on this idea. I hope it turns out well and I hope you’ll all read it (and enjoy it) when it’s on Wattpad.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo next month? What will you be working on? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!