I just completed my first novel. I’ve started several, but for one reason or another I’ve set them aside and either attributed them to learning or figured I might come back to them someday. But this one was a winner. I fell in love with the story line and followed it through to the end. I cried when I wrote the ending. But I think I’ll try a different approach with the novel I’m working on next.
Over the years I’ve listened to other writers discuss whether to outline or not. Some say they outline the book completely before beginning. Others write as they go. Because my outlining strategy left something to be desired, I figured I was one of those “write it as you go” writers. But I think I just didn’t have the correct tools yet. I was trying to just use an outline like I’d learned as a student instead of having a formula to follow.
Dan Webb says to start with the conclusion. He says you can’t write the beginning until you know how the book is going to end. According to him and others, outlining a novel has more to do with a figuring out conclusion, beginning, midpoint, a couple turning points and so forth. See his set of videos for helpful information about Story Structure.
Exercises like the ones in Book in a Month can provide help in developing the outline. Whether you write a book in a month or not, Book in a Month provided a lot of insight on writing a novel. I used a portion of these exercises to help develop the novel I just finished. The exercises I used were amazing and helpful. But I had to back up and re-write the entire plot of the book so many times that I have had new thoughts on developing the story as far as I can before I begin. I’m planning to do more pre-writing this time.
Writing a novel is great adventure. Effective tools improve the journey.