Writing

Outline Your Book The Easy Way

Outline Your Book The Easy WayO

So you have an idea or title for your fiction or non –fiction book and you would like to start writing it, but you have no clue where to begin. Outlining your book is the best place to start! This may sound like a boring exercise, but if you skip it you may forget some topics you wanted to cover initially and have to go back and try to incorporate it into your story again. By outlining from the outset you will ensure that all your subjects are covered in the best way possible and save yourself some writing time as well. Outlining is a logical exercise, but it can definitely help you to produce your best product possible.

Here are my steps to outline success:

Decide how many chapters you need.

Your chapter number depends on what type of book you intend to write.

A literary novel usually has between 36 and 44 chapters, whereas a fantasy or horror novel has around 35 to 40. A detective, mystery, action or adventure story has 28 to 32 chapters. A romance, teen novel and how-to generally has between 18 to 24 chapters. A story for 9 to 12 year old typically has between 12 and 15 chapters.

List Your Chapters:

Decide what each chapter will cover by writing a list with the chapter number on one side and your topic on the other.

Which topics would you like to address in this chapter? What theme comes across?
Spend some time fleshing out ideas around each topic per chapter and distil it into a single sentence describing the main event or idea in the chapter.

Outline Each Chapter:

Write out your single chapter sentence next to the numbers on the left of your page.

Remove each of the subjects or ideas that your reader won’t enjoy or doesn’t move the plot forward.

Arrange your chapter sentences in the best order for logical flow.

Don’t be afraid to shuffle your chapters around a few times to get the best result.

Take your time, because an organized outline leads to a book that’s easier to write.

Turn Your Outline Into A Plan For Your Book:

For each chapter in your outline write a question that you would like to answer for your reader. It can be a simple question like Chapter One – Who is the story about? Answer this question in a sentence or use key words and write it down.

Chapter One – Who is the story about?

The story is about Debbie, a forty something woman trying to find the most inconspicuous way to kill her husband.

Freewrite Your Plan:

The best and quickest way to elaborate your plan is to freewrite it. Read my previous post to learn more about freewriting. The most important aspect of freewriting is to write as much content in short bursts (10 minutes or less), without paying attention to sentence structure or grammatical errors – the words should just flow. You’ll be surprized how much writing you’ll get done this way!

 

I’ve done this example for a theoretical pregnancy book to show you how to use the steps I’ve explained above. It is a how-to book so I will need to write between 18 and 24 Chapters.

  1. Introduction
  2. Signs of pregnancy
  3. Pregnancy tests
  4. First ultrasound
  5. Eating for two
  6. Telling the news
  7. Maternity leave
  8. Preparing your home for baby
  9. Preparing your body for baby
  10. Preparing your pets for baby
  11. Preparing your hospital bag
  12. Birth
  13. Getting your partner involved
  14. Complications
  15. Twins and multiples
  16. Budgeting
  17. After baby is born
  18. Naming baby
  19. Postnatal
  20. Baby growth by week
  21. Strengthen your relationship during and after pregnancy
  22. Coping with morning sickness
  23. Becoming a parent
  24. Life after baby

The first thing I did was list 24 numbers on the left of my page and wrote down topics I would like to cover in my book in random order.

 

  1. Introduction
  2. Signs of pregnancy
  3. Testing for pregnancy
  4. First ultrasound
  5. Getting your partner involved
  6. Strengthening you relationship during and after pregnancy.
  7. Preparing your body for baby
  8. Coping with morning sickness
  9. Eating for two
  10. Baby growth week by week
  11. Twins and multiples
  12. Possible complications
  13. Naming your baby
  14. Preparing your home for baby
  15. Preparing your pets for baby
  16. Budgeting
  17. Applying for maternity leave
  18. Preparing your hospital bag
  19. Giving Birth
  20. Postnatal recovery
  21. After baby basics
  22. Becoming a parent
  23. Life after baby

Then I’ve rewritten the topics in the order that I’d like them to appear in my book.

 

  1. Introduction – Why I wrote this book and why you need to read it.
  2. Signs of pregnancy – Which signs do you need to look out for that indicate pregnancy.
  3. Testing for pregnancy – What are the types of pregnancy tests you can take? How do they work? What to do if your test is negative, but you still think you are pregnant.
  4. Choosing a doctor – what you need to know when choosing a doctor or midwife. What to expect from your first ultrasound.
  5. Getting your partner involved – how your partner can help you during pregnancy. Tips to strengthen your relationship.
  6. Preparing your body for baby – What changes occur during pregnancy. What exercises you can do during pregnancy. How you can look after yourself. How to cope with morning sickness, swollen ankles and aches.
  7. Eating for two – what to eat and what not to eat. Which supplements to take. Recipes to try. Preparing freezer meals for after the baby is born.
  8. Baby growth week by week – How the baby grows and develops. What changes occur each week and how these changes affect your body?
  9. Twins and multiples – How twins and multiples grow and develop. How it differs from a single pregnancy. How to prepare for a multiple birth.
  10. Possible complications – Health risks that can occur during pregnancy. Red flags to look out for. Normal things that happen during pregnancy. When to visit your doctor if you are concerned.
  11. Naming your baby – How to choose a name. Where to find baby name inspiration.
  12. Preparing your home for baby – Baby proofing the house. Preparing the nursery. Stocking up on baby supplies. What you’ll need for baby.
  13. Preparing your pets for baby – Letting your pets know you are having a baby. Help them cope with the changes. Introducing them to baby.
  14. Budgeting – getting your money in order. Saving for baby supplies. Second hand shopping. Getting financial help. Life and medical cover.
  15. Applying for maternity leave – Telling your boss that you’re pregnant. When to apply for maternity leave. Your rights. Budgeting for unpaid maternity leave.
  16. Preparing your hospital bag – what to have in your bag. How to pack your bag. When to pack your bag.
  17. Giving Birth – choosing a birthing method. Writing a birth plan. Preparing for surgery.
  18. Postnatal recovery – what happens to your body postpartum? What to do with the placenta. Storing your baby’s stem cells. Breastfeeding. C-section recovery.
  19. After baby basics – Bathing, massaging and swaddling a baby. Changing a diaper. Dealing with cradle cap. Dealing with colic or a sickly baby. Burping a baby
  20. Life after baby – changes that happen after baby is born. Going out with the baby. Going out without the baby. Post-natal depression. Breastfeeding problems. Going back to work.

I wrote the subjects again and elaborated on them a bit more. I also eliminated some of the chapters for a tighter and better flow to my book. I have a better idea of what I’m going to write so I will move on to the next step which is freewriting each chapter. I will be spending five minutes freewriting one chapter for the purpose of this exercise. You’ll obviously do this for your whole book.

 

Chapter 16 – Preparing your hospital bag.

Deciding what to pack and what not to pack in your hospital may be one of the most stressful things on your itinerary as an expectant mother. I found myself wheeling a massive purple bag into the hospital at six in the morning. My bag was stuffed with useless items. I probably didn’t use 90% of the items I packed. Being a first time mother made me panic about every little detail so I thought it would be better to over pack than to under pack. The items that I loved and needed at hospital were definitely diapers, wet wipes, baby soap, shampoo, wash cloths, baby clothes, socks, mittens and baby lotion. I also brought multiple baby blankets of varying thicknesses, because my son was born in Spring and it was still chilly at the time of his birth. I couldn’t live without my breastfeeding pillow, healthy snacks and water bottle. Breastfeeding made me extremely thirsty and hungry so it was great to have these on hand. I had a c-section so loose dresses and sleep shirts were essential to a comfortable hospital stay.

This is what I wrote in 5 minutes without editing. I wrote 184 words without researching the topic at all. It was very easy to let it flow and it has potential to be a good chapter in this book.

 

That’s how I outline a book. Do you outline your book before writing? What methods do you use to outline your book? Was this post helpful? Let me know by commenting below!

 

Love and Blessings,

Lindsay Sign Off New

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One thought on “Outline Your Book The Easy Way

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:

    I’ve finally caught up with the A-Z Challenge prompt of the day with my tips for Outlining Your Book The Easy Way. Whether this is your first book or your tenth, you’d want to check this post out to write your book quickly and logically.

    Like

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