6 Great Books to Help You Outline Your Novel in Record Time
Are you a pantser or a plotter? I know, the question whether outlining a novel is good or bad comes out a lot in the writing/publishing world. Whatever the case, you're in good company. Stephen King famously declared he is a pantser, while J. K. Rowling writes pages upon pages of outlines. In this post, we'll focus on plotting. But don't worry if you're on the other side, we've got you covered HERE.
Outlining a Novel: Should You do it?
We won't take any sides here. Don't believe anyone who tells you one way is better than the other. What it ultimately comes down to, is personal preference and finding a writing process that best suits you and your style. However, since we're focussing on plotters in this post, let's see some of the benefits of plotting:
- You'll take less time writing your book
- You'll have a clearer idea of where the story is going
- In most cases, it eliminates writer's block
- You'll never 'write yourself into a corner'
OK, I've made the decision. I'm going to use outlining for my next novel!
How Do You Learn Outlining?
Like virtually any other skill, outlining (or plotting) takes time. But the most important thing to note here is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are different approaches to plotting, and various tactics/ways in which an outline can be written. I'll be honest with you: you might have to try different outlining methods before you find the one that works wonders for you. To sum up, what works for one writer, might be painstakingly difficult for you. On the other hand, you may find that some obscure outlining tactic no-one uses is perfect for what you need.
OK, there are courses out there. But I don't want you to spend hundreds of $ on something that might not fit your needs. This is why Authorstech, (which deeply cares about you), has compiled a list of the absolute best books on outlining you can find out there. It's a starting point, so if you find a method you like, just drop me a line and I can point you to more in-depth material. I've added a few notes to each one so that you can decide what's best... but in the end it's up to you! Here we go...
Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawker
This is the book every outliner talks about. Written in great style, it's short but very much to the point. Great for Historical Fiction writers (the author is one of you!), the outlining process it details is simple yet extremely effective. A must-read!
Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
K.M. is like a uni professor here, and Outlining Your Novel is your textbook. Incredibly detailed, it shows how much the author knows about the subject. An excellent bonus is the companion Workbook, you can get it here.
Update: June 2017
K. M. Weiland's book has been extremely succesful. The author has just launched a new software that replicates the concepts contained in the book, by guiding you through the planning phase of your novel's outline. It is currently available for MAC and PC.
Planning Your Novel by Janice Hardy
This book is so much more than what is says on the cover. Sure, it walks you through outlining, but it also contains a great section on brainstorming ideas, nailing your characters and mastering setting. Get the companion Workbook here.
Outlining Fiction by Steve Windsor
Part of the 'Nine Day Novel' series (you should check the other books out!), this is what I would call a 'military' book. With his no-fluff style, Steve tells you exactly what to do and when, and also provides a set of handy Scrivener templates to download. Not for the faint of heart!
Nailing Your Story by Monica Leonelle
This book is more of a 'story structure' compendium. However, it has what the author calls "the Smarter Storytelling Worksheets", which are a priceless guide that helps you with plotting your story and combining all of its elements in one cohesive whole. Great read!
BONUS: One More Thing...
The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson
Still not convinced about outlining? This is the happy medium. Randy Ingermanson has 'invented' a story writing method that's often called the in-between solution for neither pansters nor plotters. Give it a try, the book is a fun and fascinating read of itself!
I hope you enjoyed the list. Honestly, you won't get any better than these little gems. Now, over to you: have you read any of these books? Are you a pantser and you've hated this post? Let me know in the comments below!
(I don’t outline.)