Outlining Your Novel | What Kind Of Outliner Are You?

Writing a novel in a month can be daunting, terrifying & utterly nerve wracking. November is that wonderful time of the year you want to chase that dream of writing a book, or at least the first 50,000 words on a first draft.

Easy, right? Thats only 1667 words per day... Well when you take into account all the activities you have on a daily basis, and throwing in a new routine for 30 days is incredibly difficult.

The first step, and quite possibly the hardest one... after deciding to throw your entire life into disarray for a full month is finding out what kind of outlining style you have. Let's take a look at what styles there are for outlining your novel.

What kind of Outliner are you?

Plotter | Architect

This outliner type is all about being Type-A, you find satisfaction drawing up very detailed notes on each chapter, scene, settings, characters. You most likely look at it as a blueprint, like an Architect. The blueprint guides you forward, very little surprise or deviation from the outline.

Pantser | Gardener

This type of outliner is all about going with the flow of the story, you let the characters direct you, the actions of the story drive you forward. You're like a gardener - planting seeds in a garden, and tending to each chapter as you write and allows the story to grow organically in front of you.

Plotser | Rebel | Sculptor

This type of outliner, likes to go for a mixture of both a plotter and pantser. You may want to have some points for your novel - the scenes, settings, and characters - but appreciate the story as a creative endeavour and have no problem deviating from the loose plot you've laid for yourself. This type of outliner acts like a sculptor - working on a section at a time, carving away, letting the story be revealed to you as you go, but knowing the general shape & style of the sculpture.

My Outlining Style

For myself, I am definitely a "Rebel / Sculptor". I always believed I would be a very type-a outliner, plotting everything... mostly because I am very type-A in everyday life. Well, I tried that for my first novel, and I crashed and burned for a few years, never fully getting through an outline. I found it to be overwhelming, and daunting. It basically sucked all the magic out of the art of writing.

Once I stopped trying to fully plot an outline, and started doing a rough overall outline - just focusing on the main character, protagonist, and a simple few sentence outlines per chapter, it helped shape my writing style so much.

As I work through each chapter I allow the scene to grow in front of me, and the characters to tell their story. I have a general idea of what's happening, but I don't tie myself to the outline as I work through "Draft #1". I find this way to be so incredibly freeing, it helps guide my focus, but allows me to be open to new ideas that can be thrown into the story later in the draft.

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