Making an outline

by Justin Flanigan

Question: What questions will help me to efficiently write a novel? For example answering the question,"Who is my audience?","What message do I want to communicate?", etc. I want to create a thorough outline before I get too deep into the writing. Any suggestions?

Answer: There are an unlimited number of questions you could productively ask yourself when you're planning a novel, and the ideal short list may be different for each project and each writer. In fact, a useful exercise is...

1. Sit down and make a list of as many questions regarding your project that you can think of.

2. Set the list aside for a day.

3. Review the list and brainstorm as many possible answers to each question as you can.

4. Set the answers aside for another day.

5. Review the answers and choose which ones you want to use in your project.

6. Repeat as necessary.

For instance, some writers never worry about what message they want to deliver. They just focus on telling a good story and let the message take care of itself. For others, the message is all-important. They design their story to deliberately convey the message.

I suggest you take a look at this article, which will help you develop a plot outline that contains the essential static plot elements...

These articles will take the process further by developing the progressive plot elements...

Bear in mind, every writer has a different approach to outlining. Some like to create very detailed plot outlines before they start writing. Others just write a volume of material and later shape the material into a consistent plot during the revision process. Some writers write a little, plot a little, write a little, etc. You have to experiment to find what works for you.

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