MY WRITING PROCESS: CHAPTER BY CHAPTER OUTLINE

Now we're really getting into the thick of outlining your novel! If you've completed your plot bullets, you're already off to a great start. I like to start long-form by handwriting the sketch outline (plot bullets), then I go to the computer for the chapter-by-chapter outline.


Before I launch into the full thing, however, I break the plot bullets into three acts: Act I, Act II, Act III. Then, I expand that to include an event for each main character, so I can clearly see character growth.


Example:

Act I - Jane feels unfulfilled in her life and has been known to play life a little too safe, decides to take up new hobby and goes to her first painting class.

Act II - Jane meets a woman at an art show hosted by her painting teacher and this woman happens to be a world-renowned artist. They become friends and Jane learns new techniques to grow her artistic skills. Eventually, the woman tells Jane she is looking for an apprentice to work with her in Paris and she'd love for that person to be Jane. Jane turns the offer down, scared of making major changes in her life.

Act III - Jane struggles with her decision to turn the Paris offer down, calls the artist to tell her she made a mistake and wants the apprenticeship, quits her job, goes to Paris.


You'll notice two things in the above development outline: 1. The second act is the largest. This is the meat-and-potatoes of your novel and should always take up most of the story.

2. Along with character development, there's plot development. Each of these things listed can be expanded on in the chapter-by-chapter outline to develop the plot and push the story further.


Let's take a look at how to develop the chapter-by-chapter, expanded outline and how it will look when it's complete.



Chapter-by-Chapter Outline


1. Chapter One: Title

a. Scene One: One line of what happens.

• Beginning.

• Middle.

• End.

b. Scene Two: One line of what happens next.

• Beginning.

• Middle.

• End.


Example

Act I:

1. Chapter One: The Engagement Party

a. Scene One: Jack meets Jill for, what seems to him to be, the first time.

• Jack and Jill both attend an engagement party for their two mutual friends. The two friends tell the couple that they must meet each other.

• When they finally find each other, Jill instantly recognizes Jack as her high school crush who didn't know she was even alive. They start talking and Jill realizes he doesn't remember at all.

• Jill gets frustrated with him and throws a drink in his face. She then storms off and leaves the party angry.

b. Scene Two: The couple talk to their friends who tried to set them up.

• Jack is at the gym with Bill and Jill talks to Amy on the phone to complain about the other. Bill and Amy convince the couple to try one more time.

• Jack calls Jill to ask her out and Jill decides to go out with him and date him until she can dump him and humiliate him as revenge for high school.


2. Chapter Two: The Date

a. Scene One: Jack and Jill go out to dinner and, surprisingly, have a great time.

• Jill gets ready while talking with her sister about the guy and tells her about her plan. Jill's sister seems worried, but Jill brushes her off.

• Jack picks her up in a nice car and the two have easy conversation on the ride to the restaurant.

• Much to her dismay, Jill has a great time. Throughout most of dinner, Jack doesn't seem like the same jerk from high school. Then, a very beautiful woman interrupts their dinner, upset that Jack recently slept with her and dumped her out of nowhere. Jill's plan is kicked into high gear and she tells Jack she wants to see him again at the end of the night.


Now you have a full outline, which should look like the skeleton of a novel when you're done with it. For more information on outlining and developing plot points, take a look at this Udemy class

Write a Best-Selling Novel in 15 Steps. Registration is easy and affordable!

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