So you got an idea and you want to turn it into a novel. But how do you get from one little idea to a full blown outline or harder yet a full blown novel? Well the simple and most obvious answer is to thought dump. But for some of us that’s not enough. And what about outlining? There are so many methods out there and maybe none of them work for you.
So I’m going to share a few things that have worked for me. These methods have helped me in dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s. Which is something I need personally and I’m sure others do to.
Do a Q&A
It can be with strangers, with your friends, with your CP, or with your mom (not your dog though, sorry fellow introverts). This is actually a really helpful thing to do when you’re still developing your idea. It also helps you find plot holes and connect dots and create explanations for things you didn’t even notice.
I came across this method when I was about 15. I had this amazing story idea and chatted all the time on neopets in the neopian writers forum. I shared my idea and some college aged teens (yeah neopets was originally created for teens and college students get over it) started asking me really specific questions I hadn’t even considered regarding about my story. So I started coming up with answers and realized my story idea was taking shape. It was getting a solid foundation now.
You: I got an awesome idea for a story! It’s about this princess being hunt by someone.
Person: who is hunting her?
You: um… The queen!
Person: but why is her mom hunting her?
You: well it’s not really her mom. She’s like a step queen?
Person: but why is she hunting her?
You: well she’s evil and…. She thinks the princess is fairest of them all… But the princess runs away
Person: how does the princess survive on her own?
etc etc…. Sometimes others can make connections that we don’t see ourselves.
Make A Spreadsheet
This is a similar outlining method to what JK Rowling uses. It’s also a similar method to what my class had to do in Jr high once when we were writing short stories or something. Point is, open Google sheets and set it up however you need it.
This is one way I’ve set it up in the past for nanowrimo. I also like to separate mine length wise by chapter, then separate the chapter into scenes. Width wise I give myself room for characters that are in the scene, location, descriptions, dialogue, and actions. This gives me a good idea of everything that’s going on. And if there’s something specific, like I really liked the idea of describing a cat as having a ‘fuck you yet lovable attitude’ I would add it to the appropriate slot. Suzy says “why? Why won’t you die?”? There’s a slot for that!
Write A Book Report
It sounds awful I know. But what do book reports consist of? They tell us what the book is about. Then they give us a look into the beginning, middle, and end. I wrote a mock-up book report for the novel I’m currently working on, Starfall, and found it helpful. Point A made sense to connect to point B. It also helped me decide on whether I was writing a stand alone novel or series.
See, here’s the thing. Writing a book report is like giving yourself a super condensed version of your novel. All of the important stuff is in there and you give yourself more than your back of the book blurb of an idea.
These are just a few things that have helped me with ironing out ideas and plotting. Hopefully they can help others, too.