How to make peace with outlining your novel?

Thing is: it is sooooooooooooooo slow. Getting it right takes time. Loads of it.

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This current work in progress is a challenge.

I chose to get outside my comfort story zone, in order to better my writing process.

And boy, do I hope all that hard work will improve things.

The Rejected Novel

I am currently working on the 5th outline. Yep, I wrote five outlines for this novel. I used to hate that writing process.

Now, I made peace with it. Mostly because my last finished novel was, again, rejected.

Again.

You guessed it: I did not outline the rejected novel.

Re-reading the rejected novel, which I wrote a year ago, I understand why it got rejected. It misses some chore action beats, there are 4 chapters that don’t belong there and the main character is very problematic.

The Power of the Outline

I want to do everything in my power to get my current work in progress somewhere. It is a fun idea, a chilling mystery for middle-graders I am having so much fun to write.

Well, almost…

In order to nail every details, to embrace every beat on the freaking sheet, I am going out of my usual writing ways.

It is very thought BUT the story improved so much from the first outline to the present 5th outline, characters and plot-wise anyway.

On the writing side, sentences are more to the point, more active.

Thing is: it is sooooooooooooooo slow. Getting it right takes time. Loads of it.

Thing also is: it feels like I am working on a school essay.

This 5th super detailed outline I am currently working on, based on many outlining techniques (links down below), is more to make extra sure I got everything right. According to all those « helping writers » blog post I read anyway.

Making peace with outlining

Forcing myself into an novel outlining process was very humbling.

I happen to be a content writer, and I know a thing or two about the gig, to say the least.

When I put my stories thought a set outline or a beat sheet, I can see the weakness’s way more clearly. I know what to change, how to tweak this, why it is so important to delete those 10 000 words (*sigh*).

I came up with my own outline structure at the end, very much based on my favorite outlining methods:

Katytastic has been on the YouTube and Blog Univers for a while. That method is very inspiring.

Savannah Gilbo is presenting the famous Save the Cat beat sheet for novels. Keep in mind thought, Save the Cat is for screenplays!

I found it very interesting to put through my story to this  »How to plot a Novel » method by Bryn Donovan.

I hope this helps a little.

Until next time!

How to write a novel ​: 3 tested tips to get things started

Here’s 3 tips that served me well over the years, and some bonus thoughts on this « how to write »!

Beside from sitting your bum on chair and, you know, write.

Not long ago, a friend asked me for some help. She wanted to write a novel but honestly didn’t know where to start.

She had not so much of an idea, but she knew what kind of book she wanted to write.

Even though I have been writing for more than twenty years, I had to think things through before answering. 

How do I start writing a novel again?

Please welcome the great, the marvellous, the incredible Ideas!

Well, the first thing you need when you want to write a novel is an idea. There’s really no way around it.

You need a character that goes on a quest to obtain something essential to her/his life or else.

Where to find ideas then?

Here are 5 tips on how to find ideas for a novel, that served me oh so very well over the years.

I got those tested tips from the creative writing class I use to take, as well as from authors interviews, channels or books.

Tip #1 : Read the newspapers

An actual paper newspapers. It is FULL of sparkling ideas, I promise.

Read the headlines for sure, but take the time to read all those little articles about the local news, or the local news in other countries. What I like the most is the political crisis in little countries or this old law that just got overruled (mostly laws about the proper use of horses).

That being said, I more than often much more weird, disturbing, sad news, perfect to start a thriller or a mystery novel for example.

In French, we have a say: la réalité dépasse la fiction. Meaning that reality is, very often, less believable than fiction.

The newspapers holds many proofs of that.

Tip #2: Take public transport

You will help decrease pollution worldwide AND you will be able to study other humans in their natural habitat. Plus, you can do some very inspiring ears dropping.

It’s crazy how a spectacular outfit, a burst of peculiar laughter, an incredible amount of egg shapes freckles covering the entire face of a beautiful person (true story, the impossible green of her eyes still haunts my writer dreams), can spark the creative flow.

Who’s behind that rainbow tailor suit; why is that person talking about quantum physics in Russian on his/her phone at 7 in the morning; geez, I really didn’t need to know about that young woman gynecologist appointement (true story).

Tip #3: Get out

I mean it.

Take a walk, a normal, no counting how steps you’ve taken or how many calories you’ve burned walk. And take that opportunity to leave stress behind.

Better yet, get out there. Travel. Meet new people, taste new things. No need to break the bank. A little imagination goes a long way

Still, the best way to travel for free is: read books.

When in doubt, go to the library

Novels can transport you through time and space. You can hear different voices, you get to be confronted by different realities.

To read novels is to travel far beyond our own prejudices, beyond the walls we built in our heads, beyond what we thought was true.

Ideas live in books. And in a library, they are many, many books.

I will now digress a little, if I may, and share opinions. Disclosure: I mean no disrespect to anyone. I do mean to bash or put to shame anyone either.

I am hopeful that your public library buys books from every author in the World, and does not censure anything, even the crap I know think is pollution both for the mind and the environment.
Because we all have the right to read whatever the frex we want, as long as it doesn’t make one a complete psychopath-racist-shallow jerk (ends all those crappy books I wish were not published).

Anyway.

It goes without saying. To write a novel, you need to read novels…. Or so I thought.

Depressingly enough, some people will argue that they can write a book, since they play video games and watch movies and tv series.

Oh my dearfrexing Gosh.

No no.

No no no.

To write a novel, you NEED to read novels. End of the discussion. See you at the library!

Sources

Here are some people whom might be able to help you too!

Very good one from Amina’s blog, of Numawork Creatives.

Writers Digest gets you started with basic stuff.

A Well Told Story is coming at you with her usual great tips to get writing.

So many tools you can use to help you along your writing journey. I like the ones from Writers helping writers, but there is many more.

One of my favorites author helping others, Paula, helps you with the dreaded first chapter.

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