I didn’t use to outline my novels. In fact, I was grumpy and opposed to the whole idea until I was required to create one for part of a writing group project. I dragged my feet. I whined. I’m amazed I didn’t blog about it before, whining.
I thought that it would somehow squash or restrict my creative process. That it would ruin the way that I wrote. That it would take something away from me.
I’ve changed my mind, though. After being “made” to create an outline for my urban fantasy manuscript, I was forced to ask myself plot and character questions and then address them before I had more than a few chapters written. It was like getting advanced notice on what to watch out for in the near future, giving me time to prepare for it.
So now I’m working on the outline and characters for the second book in the same series (while the first manuscript is in beta reading this month). There are some important questions that everyone needs to ask themselves while in the outlining/plot planning phase:
- Are character motivations consistent?
- Is the conflict set up early and clearly? Is it resolved?
- Does the setting contribute appropriately to the overall mood or tone of the scene/novel?
- Does the narrative voice reflect character, genre and tone effectively?
- Is there a theme (or themes) you can identify in the story?
- Is this an original idea/characters? Is it too much of a familiar trope?