New Author? 3 Tips To Help You To Outline Your Novel

New Author? 3 Tips To Help You To Outline Your Novel

Hate writing outlines? If you’re a new author, do your best to write an outline anyway. If nothing else, an outline assures you that yes, by heavens, you’re writing a novel, rather than a mass of words.

The following tips will help.

Why outline? One simple reason: you’ll avoid a horrible fate… Unlike the vast majority of new authors, you’ll write a real novel, one that has a real story.

The most common new author pitfall: nothing happens

Here’s your challenge, if you’re a new author.

You must make something happen. Preferably on every page. Moreover, that “something” must be relevant — integral to your story.

Does that sound easy? It is. However, when you’re a new author, you’re all about the pretty words. Experienced authors don’t care about the words — they care about the story.

An experienced author knows that you can fix your word choices, scene construction and grammar, but if nothing happens in your novel, then you’ve just wasted all the time you spent writing.

1. Make something happen NOW

You’re a new author, so you want to start writing NOW.

Please don’t…

If you go ahead anyway, please avoid these kinds of common and horrid novel beginnings…

  • The “waking up in the morning” novel opening. Trust me, no one cares. As I’ve said before, if you don’t wake up with a space alien bending over you, or beside a corpse… we don’t care.
  • “Poor me, I’m having SUCH a bad day…” — romance novelists love this opening. Sadly, similarly to the above, we don’t care. If your main female character spills hot coffee over her new silk blouse, rear-ends a car, gets fired… Nope, we don’t care.
  • Please also avoid the “bang, bang, you’re dead…” — the dead bodies/ or car crash opening, loved by new thriller authors… We’re reading a novel, not the news, so we’re not interested in dead people before you’ve made us care about them.

An experienced author may have the skills to begin his novel with these kinds of first pages, but you don’t — attempt them later in your career.

Write your novel’s opening pages after you’ve outlined a real story.

Start by thinking about your novel as a STORY

Before you think about your novel’s first page, think about the novel, as a whole. What happens? What’s the story?

From How to Write a Novel Even if You’re a New Writer:

Now you have your title, it’s time to brainstorm a fantastically crazy situation.

Mysteries usually involve a crime of some sort, often murder. So, who’s your victim? Why was he/ she murdered?

How was he/ she murdered? Where was he/ she murdered?

At this stage, you don’t need a complete plot, you just need enough material to become enthusiastic and inspired.

Choose a genre (category) and dream up some situations which would be appropriate for the genre you’ve chosen.

Choose one situation.

2. Create your milestones: they’re the bones of your outline

After you’ve chosen a situation, list your milestones:

• The setup (at the 25 per cent point of the novel);

• The midpoint, where everything changes, at 50 per cent;

• The OOPS milestone: the kick in the pants. Think of it as a sharp jolt, or the dark moment. It occurs at the 80 per cent point.

Etc…

This article tells you about milestones; I don’t want to repeat the information here.

3. Choose your Point of View character: your novel starts when his life changes

Well done, new author! You’ve got the bare bones of a real story.

Next, choose your primary character, your Point of View (POV) person — the one through whose experiences you’ll tell your story.

For example, in a mystery, your POV character is usually the sleuth. In a romance, the female protagonist is your POV person.

You may even choose to create an “unreliable” main character. An unreliable POV character is common in psychological thrillers.

Plot out several scenes, new author, then start writing

Got your main story, and POV character? Excellent. Note down a couple of scenes in your outline, if you wish.

Alternatively, just start writing.

Your process will probably change with each novel. My goal is always to start writing as soon as I have an intriguing idea for a story, plus a main character, because I know that new ideas will develop while I write.

You may want to develop your outline further. Whatever you choose… onward. 🙂

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

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Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters. More info →
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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

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I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly. More info →
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Write Fiction: 3 Tips To Kickstart Your Bestselling Novel Today

Write Fiction: 3 Tips To Kickstart Your Bestselling Novel Today

You want to write fiction — a bestselling novel. It’s your dream, but how do you get started? Your novel may turn out be a bestseller, or a dud, but you’ll never know until you complete it, and it’s published.

Of course, something is holding you back, otherwise you’d have started your novel the first time the thought occurred to you.

Here’s the thing. Writing fiction is simple.

Truly, it is, as long as you remember to daydream.

If you want to write fiction, start daydreaming stories

Consider that you’re already an expert on stories. You’ve read thousands of novels. (If you haven’t… start reading, today.) Stories are everywhere. Movies, TV, Netflix.

Story starters are everywhere too; just watch any reality show to get dozens. Choose someone you hate on a reality show, and daydream about them. Or choose someone who intrigues you in a coffee shop, and daydream about the kind of person they are.

If you can daydream, you can write fiction.

These tips will help you to write fiction.

1. Sit down somewhere: grab your computer, or a notepad

This tip is vital. Put your rear end in a chair — chances are, you’ve heard this suggestion before. Please — DO IT.

I like to start my novels and short stories with a pen and notepad, but use a computer if you’re more comfortable.

OK. Let’s start writing your novel.

Write:

  • About a movie you saw. Think about someone in the movie, and write a description of them. Let your mind wander… and imagine something horrible happening to that person. Write your imaginings down.
  • A list of words. Any words you like. Just write them down the page — aim for 20. Choose any five words from your list, and use them in a paragraph. Close your eyes, and daydream. Keep writing.
  • A description of an acquaintance — someone at work, or a neighbor. Write about this person’s biggest secret. It’s a huge secret, a secret that they would literally kill to keep.

See what you did there? You were writing.

Anyone can write fiction, but don’t say to yourself: I’m writing a novel. That’s fatal. You’ll immediately become self-conscious, and your fears will crowd in.

Just start writing, without expectations of anything.

You’ll be surprised at the result.

2. Build a treasury of ideas to help you to write fiction

We read fiction for an emotional experience. Before bedtime tonight, you can pick up your Kindle, or a paperback novel, and you can immerse yourself in someone else’s world.

You might become:

  • A gladiator in ancient rome;
  • A submarine mariner in a nuclear submarine;
  • An astronaut, setting foot on Mars for the very first time.

To write fiction, you need a treasury of ideas. Each of these ideas must have emotional resonance for you — that’s essential. Something about an idea intrigues you, and before you know it, you’re daydreaming…

Pay close attention to how you feel. Most people avoid their emotions, and that’s sad. If you’re doing this, keep a gratitude journal, so that you can start familiarizing yourself with your emotions.

Ideas are everywhere:

  • Look out the window. What do you see?
  • Read the news. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has made the news;
  • Listen to people. Most people like to gossip. Squirrel away the stories they tell you.

Write down your ideas, just a sentence or three, in an idea notebook.

3. WRITE fiction every day: start by creating characters

Remember: avoid saying — to yourself and others — I am writing a novel. Tempting yes, but it might be fatal too.

To write a novel, you need:

  • Characters
  • Those characters do things, because they MUST and that creates…
  • A plot.

Every short story or novel begins with a character who has a huge problem. He can’t avoid the problem.

So, start writing about a character who has a problem.

Then create another character with a problem.

And another…

See? You already know how to write fiction.

Get started.

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

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Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

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Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing
How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. More info →
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3 Hot Writing Tips For Writing Romance Fiction

 3 Hot Writing Tips For Writing Romance Fiction

Romance fiction is fiction’s most popular genre (category), and has been for decades. So let’s look at three essential writing tips for this genre.

I don’t say “essential” lightly. Authors want to write romance because it’s so popular… but, they want to be improve things. Nasty “formulas” are not for them. They want to rescue romance readers from their own folly.

Listen up, please… I’m begging here. If you want your books to sell, write what readers want to read, not what you want to write.

Essential writing tips for writing romance

The argument starts something like this…

“My romance doesn’t have a happy ending,” an author tells me.

“A happy ending — Happy Ever After (HEA) or at least Happy For Now (HFN) is essential for the romance genres,” I respond.

“Yes, but…”

“Sorry… but if you don’t have a happy ending, you’re writing women’s fiction, not romance.”

Unfortunately, the arguments never end when it comes to commercial romance fiction. Let’s look at our tips.

1. Read romance fiction — VITAL

Many years ago, way back when I was a happy little author-to-be, I read lots of Mills & Boon, and said to myself, “anyone can write this junk, even I.”

Well, I was wrong, and right.

What I did right was read. But I was WAY wrong about the “anyone.”

Here’s the thing. Even though I thought the little romance books were junk, I got a kick out of reading them. They were entertaining — fun to read, and I raced through them.

Moreover, I knew that I could write them. It took me just three months to get a contract for a romance novel series from a major British publisher at that time.

Please understand this important truth: I knew what I was reading, BUT I wasn’t contemptuous of the books.

That’s the tip: READ. If you try to write what you don’t or can’t read and enjoy, your romance fiction will fail.

Yes, you may hit the jackpot like the Jane Austen and zombies book managed to do, but that’s not a romance. The zombies are the entertainment in that book.

2. Write what readers want to read: a happy ending is essential

See above. Everything in romance fiction leads to a happy ending. You’re writing entertainments, as we’ve said. Your books are read by smart people (mainly women, yes) who want to escape their lives for a few hours.

Don’t want a happy ending? Fine. Write whatever you like. But don’t try to palm your words off as “romance”, when you’re not writing romance.

For success… write what readers want to read. (And as we’ve said, and I’ll repeat — read so you know what readers want.)

3. Romance fiction is ALL about the emotion

You’ll take a huge step forward in your fiction writing career when you realize that readers read for the experiences. For the feelings. Readers of horror novels want to be scared witless, mystery readers want clues so that they can find out whodunit — none of this is news.

Romance readers want… Yep. Romance.

Funnily enough, I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. 😉

Please follow these essential writing tips

You can write whatever you want to write today.

The gatekeepers have gone. However, do remember that you’re writing for readers, who want a specific experience when they read fiction. Please give them those experiences — you’ll sell more. And do remember to write a happy ending for your romances. 🙂

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
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Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular. More info →
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More Heart To Heart: Write Hot-Selling Romance Fiction

More Heart To Heart: Write Hot-Selling Romance Fiction

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: Romance Writing, Book 2
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
I adore writing romance fiction, and now you can write romance too. More info →
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