How To Outline A Series

It can be hard enough to outline a single book but when it comes to writing a book series, it’s even harder. You can outline each book individually or you can outline the series as a whole. Depending on the length of the series and its genre you can choose what would work best for the project and you. So, here’s how to outline a series.

How To Outline A Series | Creative writing | writing | novel writing | outline | novel outline | RachelPoli.com

What’s the main idea?

Each book has its own main idea, central plot point, or theme. When it comes to outlining your series, you can list the main ideas for each book as well as the series as a whole. What’s the point of each book in the series and why do we need many books to get to the end of the major plot? What’s going to happen from point A to point B to keep readers buying the next book in the series?

Brainstorm these plot points

If you’re going to outline the series as a whole rather than each individual book as you write them, make a list of plot points that should happen from the beginning of book one to the end of the final book. This will help move the plot along and stretch it out for as long as the series needs to be. This will also help give you a rough idea of how many books you may need.

Summarize each book

Even though the books in the series will work together to get to a common end, each book should still have it’s own goal and plot points to be wrapped up at the end of each book. Summarizing each individual plot as well as the overall picture of the series will help keep you and the series organized. It gives each book more of a purpose and makes it more fun and entertaining.

Create a timeline

One way to help summarize each book and/or the series is to create a timeline. I’ve done that for my mystery series and it’s helped a lot. It helps keep track of the evidence and details of each case as well as dates and just the general “what happens when.” Creating a timeline is easier than it seems – well, it’s hard only if you don’t know all the information you want to fill in. There’s no wrong way to create a timeline though, which is great.

Do you outline your series as a whole or not? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Downside To Outlining Your Novel

When it comes to any stage of the creative writing process, there’s always some pros and cons to it. Not all writing is glamorous and it sounds more exciting than it really is at times. Outlining is a step some people skip and one that everyone does differently. So, here’s the downside to outlining your novel.

The Downside to Outlining Your Novel | Creative writing | outlining your novel | novel writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

Before the First Draft

When I outline before the first draft, I feel a certain thrill for my novel. I’m excited, the ideas are brand new and fresh. I can’t wait to get to know my characters and explore a new world I’ve created.

If I get any new ideas, I have to write it down otherwise I’ll forget. Sometimes I write details that I believe the event might occur but other times I just write the basic idea down and call it day.

So, when the outline is over and it’s time to write the first draft, there’s one of two things that might happen:

1. I write the first draft without a problem.

Obviously, this is the best way to go. The outline guides me as it’s supposed to. Some ideas stay the same, some change. New characters are added and so on and so forth. This is the ideal way I’d love for all my novels to go.

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

2. The thrill is gone.

There have been times where I’ve outlined and then, when it comes time to write the first draft, I have no more motivation to write the story anymore.

Why?

Because I more or less already wrote it. Sometimes I write so many details into the outline, or I’ve worked on it for so long that the idea has been cooking for a while, that when I start the first draft I feel like I already wrote it.

This makes the process of writing the first draft slow. I wish that it was already written and I could just get started on the editing process. There’s a lot more detail and description that has to go into the first draft though.

I love outlining but there have been times where it’s been more work than I meant it to be. Sometimes, even if you outline all the time, it’s best not to outline and just wing the project. Everyone works differently but also I think every project needs to be tackled with its own unique approach.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you put yourself in a writing slump before? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The One Reason I Outline As I Write The First Draft

When I first started writing I always thought that you needed to outline before you began writing the first draft. That’s what I was taught in school, after all. I always had to brainstorm and write an outline to pass into the teacher before handing in the first draft of the essay. Most often than not, I’d write the essay and then write an outline based off what I wrote and passed them in respectively when they were due. My teachers never suspected a thing. Still, I always outlined my novels before writing – until recently that is. Here’s the one reason I outline as I write the first draft.

The One Reason I Outline As I Write The First Draft | Novel outlines | outlining your novel | creative writing | blogging | RachelPoli.com

There used to be a lot of steps I’d take in order to get through a couple of drafts of my novel. Why? Because I had to take notes. Notes meant an updated outline.

In other words, I would outline, write the first draft, then as I edited the first draft I’d outline again updating the original outline with anything that changed or was out of order than I originally intended. I would do this for every draft as well.

The reason I did this was because it became easier for me to edit if I have a solid outline or even a table of contents so I didn’t have to scroll through the whole manuscript to find that one certain scene.

Then I decided to cut out a step here and there. Now I outline as I write the first draft.

It keeps my first draft together.

Sometimes I’ll do research and make a list of characters and such before I begin writing but now I outline as I go along and write the first draft.

Not only does this make the editing process easier since I have that guideline, but it also helps as I write the first draft because if I need to stop writing for the night, I can always look at the outline the next day to remember where I left off and keep going without any hiccups.

This keeps my first draft together and allows me to brainstorm new ideas, expand on existing ideas, and get going on that first draft quicker. I’ll write a scene and then when the chapter is over, I’ll make a note of it in my outline. It reminds me of what happened (yes, even if I wrote it five minutes ago) and allows me to ponder on it more. Sometimes I don’t think of what could happen next until I write a summarized version of what’s already happened.

For me personally, I think outlining while I write the first draft works the best. I remember most of what’s going on in my own story and it keeps me organized which is what I like best.

When do you outline, if you outline at all? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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My Creative Writing Process

We’ve talked a lot about the creative writing process this month so I thought I would share my creative writing process.

My Creative Writing Process | Creative Writing | Writing | Writing Tips | Novel Writing | RachelPoli.com

Outlining

I go back and forth with my outlining process. Sometimes I outline before but sometimes I outline during. I used to always summarize what I wanted to happen in each chapter and then it would change during the writing process of the first draft.

Now I usually outline just the basics. Plot points I’d like to happen, random ideas, a list of characters and places, and the like. While I write my first draft, I summarize each chapter. This makes the editing process so much easier for me in the long run.

Writing

I give myself about a month to write the first draft. This is all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Some people don’t agree with it, but I believe that the first draft is just you telling yourself the story. If it’s a bunch of gibberish, at least you got the bare bones down. So I typically spend about 30 days writing 2,000 words a day to get the first draft done. Then the real writing begins.

RevisingEditing

I’ll admit… until I just did the research for this month’s blog posts, I though revision and editing were one in the same. So I guess I should take a look at how I do things.

Still, I’ve gotten into a good routine with my editing. I’ve been using the rainbow editing method for the last few drafts of my various manuscripts and it’s been working really well for me. It helps me zero-in on certain aspects I need to focus on. Editing is not as difficult as it used to be for me.

Publishing

Yeah, I’m still figuring this one out.

What’s your writing process look like? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Creative Writing Process: Outlining

When it comes to writing a lot of us just sit down and writing. Sometimes we think first, but for the most part we just go through the motions of writing a book.

But what are those motions?

There’s a thing called a creative writing process that we all follow whether we realize it or not.

Right off the bat, the first step of the creative writing process is optional. Some people would better this way, others don’t. Sometimes people do only half of step one and other people do it at a different time during the writing process of their novel.

Needless to say, this whole post can be kind of moot depending on your writing style. But whatever, here we go…

The Creative Writing Process Outlining | Novel Writing | Writing Tips | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Brainstorming. Prewriting. Outlining.

Whatever you want to call it, the first step is the basic idea of the novel. Technically, those three terms can mean different things, but hey – we all write our novels differently and in our own unique styles. So I’m counting this.

Brainstorming is producing ideas. You can list ideas for many different stories or ideas for events to happen in one story. These are simple ideas of things that could happen in your novel. It doesn’t mean it will actually come to fruition.

Prewriting and Outlining are similar. They sound exactly like their name – before you begin the actual first draft of your novel, you get the basic skeleton of the story down on paper. This can be as simple as filling out a few character charts or creating a mind map of major and minor plot events of the story. Sometimes it can be as in-depth as summarizing each chapter or bullet-listing chapters, characters, and ideas.

I guess it’s kind of like writing the first draft without all the filler stuff.

I personally enjoy outlining before writing the first draft. It helps me keep my thoughts organized. However, not everyone can work like that. So this step can often be skipped. Or, as I said earlier, this step may happen at another point in the creative writing process. I’ve outlined during writing the first draft a few times before and that works just fine for me. It kind of cuts out a step but I’m staying organized all the same.

Do you typically outline before writing the first draft? Or do you do this step at a different time or skip it all together? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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