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Plotline 101: Tools & Resources for Outlining

It's that time again! We've been learning all month about outlines, the types, the common mistakes, and alternative options. Now you're ready to begin seriously writing. To help you on your journey, I've compiled the ultimate resource guide to get you started. In today's post you'll find inspiration, more tips, and links to other helpful sites/resources.

This will be the final post for May's plotline writing series. We've accomplished so much in our outlining journey that I feel comfortable ending the series a little early in order to move on to some new and exciting things. As always, thank you so much for your continued support! This blog means so much to me and to see it beginning to resonate with other writers is so rewarding. If you haven't yet followed me on my media pages or subscribed, please feel free to do so. I look forward to connecting with you all on a more personal level.

Now without further preamble...


A Quick Outline Checklist:

(You should definitely do these things when structuring your outline)

  • Identify your "hook". This is the attention-grabbing aspect that you open your first chapter with. This is what lures readers in and keeps them reading.

  • Introduce all your important characters and settings within the first 25 percent of your book.

  • Outline events that bring your characters into the action in a logical and interesting way.

  • Consider how to demonstrate the primary conflict and what is at stake. What will your protagonist lose should they fail their objective?

  • Abide by the concept of four major plot points, which divides your novel into fourths.

The Four Major Plot Points:

  1. The first major plot point (25% mark): The first part of your book should introduce your protagonist's "normal" life and then destroy it via conflict. They should be forced to react, thus beginning your story.

  2. The mid-point (50% mark): Your character's reactions should lead you to the mid-point. These will provoke change in your character's attitudes and response to the antagonist overall. He will choose to take action as opposed to reacting to what is happening to him.

  3. The third act (75% mark): Your third major plot point. This is the "low" point for your protagonist. The point where they feel like giving up, are questioning their reasons for holding on, feel like admitting defeat, etc. He will have to have something happen that will uplift and strengthen his resolve here.

  4. The climax (100% mark): The final part of your story, the resolution. This is the determining action that leads to the end result, whether it be defeating (or succumbing to) the antagonist.

Other types of outlines to explore:

(In case the others didn't help)

The Bookend Method: A method of outlining where you create the beginning and the ending concretely during the planning process, but leave the middle sections open-ended. Instead of plotting them, you let the draft do it's magic.

In order to use this method appropriately, you need a strong understanding of your story and how it might unfold. This is where your premise statement and perhaps a synopsis can be the most useful. That way you have the beginnings of a roadmap, but not everything about the journey is dictated before-hand.

The In-Depth Method: For those who need all the help they can get when writing, this is the draft for you! It allows you to go way past the boundaries of normal outlining and deep into your story. I'm talking, 10,000+ words. If you dislike writing the first draft or feel like you'd rather "tell" yourself the full story down to every little detail, definitely try this one out.

Books & Other Resources:

This is a list of books to provide you with further insight into the novel outlining process.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way To Success by K.M. Weiland

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker

Planning Your Novel by Janice Hardy

Outlining Fiction by Steve Windsor

Nail Your Story by Monica Leonelle

The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

Honorable Mentions: A list of online resources that will also help you on your outlining journey.

Well-storied.'s article: Finding the Novel Outlining Process that Works for You

The Novel Factory: Novel Plot Outline Worksheets

C.S. Lakin: Ways Novelist Can Brainstorm Plot and Scenes

Happy Writing, friends!

#writingitwells #writing #writer #May #writingseries #plotline #writingadvice #writinginspiration #writingtips

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