Novel Writing

Outlining your Novel

A few days ago I read a blog post by amandagrey1 about Novel writing software, and it got me thinking. To have a look at the post, please follow this link

At the start of my novel, about two months ago, I took up an offer of a free trial with Novlr and I have to say I loved it. In particular, I loved the statistics it gave me. As I work with statistics as a day job I really enjoyed seeing my hobby displayed as numbers too. I did face a big problem, however, and that was issues with the server. I didn’t decide to pay the monthly fee after my trial ran out as so often I would try to log on, the system would be down, and I wouldn’t be able to work on my novel. Because of this, I decided to use OneDrive and Word to write the rest of my book.

However now I am getting myself into a muddle and my writing goals in terms of my outline went out of the window as I no longer had a clear idea of each chapter’s goal and structure. Amandagrey1 on her blog mentioned both Novlr and Litlift and so I decided to try Litlift for a while. I am 30 minutes in and very inspired so far.

There is a fantastic Outline Feature that has helped me to get back on the right track. I initially outlined my whole novel, and then I began itching to write, so I scrapped my detailed planning and started writing straight out of my imagination. Many thousands of words in, I now know my characters so much better. However, when I looked into the outline system on Litlift I found so many weak points.

Firstly my opening chapters had become bogged down with backstory and my main “hook” was left until Chapter 10. Rooky error! Now I have shuffled things around and feel much more confident that my book will grip it’s reader (fingers crossed!) from the start. I also hadn’t introduced my bad guy until later on in the novel, and so moving them into the start of the book has made things much more interesting.

On that day I went from 11,000 words to only keeping 2,000 of them, which was, in all honesty, a little gutting. However, I would much rather find out my weak points now, rather than get further into my story and realise that my plotline was fundamentally flawed. 

I would love to hear about anyone else’s experience with outlining and whether or not you find it helps you. As a new writer I’m looking to get as much advice as I can get!