4 Tips & Tricks To Help You Survive Your Outline

4 Tips And Tricks To Help You Survive Your Outline


If you have been working on a plan for your novel, you will enjoy this post where we look at tips and tricks to help you survive your outline.

This week, I’ve been struggling with the outline of a story. So often it seems, when planning your novel or script, you get to a point where you’re happy – or mildly satisfied – with your outline only to find a plot hole or a character motivation that doesn’t make sense.

And then you have to unpick and re-stitch this delicate garment you have been slaving over for hours and hours.  It’s a bit like zipping up an overstuffed travel case only to find you’ve left out your hair-dryer or tooth paste.  It’s very frustrating, isn’t it?

I think plotting is a process and a process that can’t be rushed. It goes through stages of elimination and refinement. (And perhaps it would possibly be the mark of a novice if you believed your first outline would be your final outline. What do you think?)

4 Tips & Tricks To Help You Survive Your Outline

Here are a few things that helped me this week – and maybe they’ll help you too. (Whether they will work next week, who knows?)

  1. Breathing room. Don’t be too rigid in the outline – leave space for other ideas to grow and be open to alternative plot ideas
  2. Cooling off. Take short breaks – sometimes setting the outline aside for a few days gives you breathing space, and when you come back to it you’re able to think more objectively
  3. Tuck it under your pillow. Sleep on it – often ideas to solve problems in the plot come to you while you’re sleeping, in the shower or on the train. Write these down – but don’t be too quick to put them in your outline.
  4. Good ol’ common sense. Don’t get (too) hung up on structure – write the outline in a way that feels natural and makes the most sense. This will help that your story doesn’t come off as too formulaic.

Top Tip: If you want to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

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  2. 5 Ways To Start Using Killer Dialogue In Your Story
  3. How Do You Come To Story?