Creative Caravan Club
Outlining a Novel in 12 Chapters
If you're planning to write a novel, you might want to outline it in just 12 chapters. You may end up with more chapters once you start writing, but starting with only 12 chapters makes the planning and outlining process more manageable. As you create a plot for your novel, remember, your plot should include these five elements:
1. A strong opening scene - that presents a sympathetic character, someone we know about in detail and will care about.
2. A conflict - that is rather complex and not easily solved since things will get worse and worse in the story before they get better.
3. A further complication to the plot - this is where "the plot thickens."
4. A climax - things come to a boiling point and there's no going back
5. A resolution - things are resolved and the main character is changed forever in some way
Now - to start your outline:
1. First, decide how your story will start. Then, write a few sentences about this for chapter 1 of your outline.
2. Next, figure out how your story will end. Where will your main character end up and how will he/she change or grow? Put this information in your outline.
3. Go back and fill in each of the other chapters. Keep in mind that you want to create rising action up to the climax, then falling action and the resolution.
Some additional tips to outline your story:
Start with a character readers will love. Put this person in the middle of some sort of change. You're setting the stage for the overall story problem.
In the movies, you usually see the main character take a trip or go away somewhere so the character is now in a different location than he/she was in the opening of the story. But this change in venue can be something simple, like the character leaves his house and walks outside. It can be more dramatic, like he/she leaves home for the first time, or has to go on a far away trip for some reason.
The main character faces some sort of complication to the conflict. The action starts to rise.
We learn more about the complication and wonder how the main character will deal with it
The main character deals with the complication and moves on. But the overall story problem still exists.
But now, Another complication occurs and we wonder what he/she will do this time.
The main character deals with the second complication and the reader begins to think maybe things will be okay for the main character.
But just when we think things will be okay, they get worse.
Things reach a crisis point. An action is taken that brings about the climax.
The climax occurs - This ends the crisis in some way and changes things
The Falling action begins - this can be the start of the resolution
This is where the main character ends up. What has he or she learned as a result of facing all the conflict? How has the main character changed or grown as a result of all he/she faced? What is next for this character (just give a hint of this)
At this point, you just want a very rough outline of the storyline. Don’t worry about scenes yet. Just try to get the storyline down within the 12 chapters.