Whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction, I always write an outline for my book. There are many methods for outlining. Here’s a quick overview of my method.
For nonfiction I write all the major points that I want to make. I arrange the points in the order I want to cover them. This is the sequence that I want my book to follow. Then, I write some information about each point. Each of these points becomes a chapter and the information becomes a summary. When I write the chapter I use the summary to make sure that I’ve covered all the points.
For fiction I write all the major ideas and events that I want to happen. Then I arrange them in the order I want them to happen. Once I have the major outline I start writing more detail about the events. These become my synopsis of each chapter, which builds a synopsis of the book. When I’m writing the book I refer back to the outline and synopsis and this helps keep my thoughts straight and keeps me from having a character in two places at once (that can be embarrassing).
Here are a few tips on outlining:
The more detail the better.
Use the outline to find plot holes, contradictions, repeat information, good flow, etc.
Use the outline to pitch the book or story idea.
Don’t be afraid to change it.
Well that’s my very brief overview of my outlining practices. Do you outline? If so, what are your outlining methods?
I don’t know what I’d do without my outlines; oh wait yes I do, I’d forget what order everything goes in. XP (Not that that’s ever happened or anything….)
I pretty much do my outlines like you; although sometimes I’ll only know parts of the story so I leave gaps in the timeline to remind myself that something has to be added there.