An Idea for a Novel Evolves
After living in Indonesia for a year my teaching contract finished; and like so many other English as a Second Language instructors the world was now open for me to explore and explore, I did. I embarked on a six-month adventure which started in Singapore and I worked my way north up through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. I fell head over heels in love with this pocket of the world and its people.
During my travels I was one of many foreigners present in South East Asia when the December 26, 2004 tsunami struck. Thankfully, I was not adhering to a tight travel schedule and was not on Ko Phi Ph for Christmas as I had originally planned. But I had met other backpackers who were heading that way and wondered what became of them. When I eventually landed in Bangkok, there were notice boards everywhere that had pictures of fellow backpackers who were missing. It was devastating to think of all the families who were trying to locate loved ones. Hence, I became inspired to write about the plight of the tsunami's victims—not from a tourist’s perspective, but a story about a local survivor and how the catastrophe altered their life.
5 Writing Tips to Create a Novel Outline
When I returned home and sat down to write my novel, I was very naive which as it turns was a good thing. I was not worried about how to get published or would the novel be good enough. I simply wrote because I wanted too and because I felt I had something important to say. Before I commenced, I developed an outline which was invaluable to the construction of the novel as it gave me a solid foundation to develop my work. It also helped to break the novel into pieces so the prospect of writing it was not as daunting.
To assist with the development of a novel, please find below 5 tips to get you going on an outline:
1. Brainstorm. This is the fun part. You have an idea for a novel so roughly sketch out all your ideas regardless of how random they may seem—you don’t have to use all of them but get them down because you never know…I suspect there will be a little gem or two in there. Consider: characters--Who is the protagonist? Antagonist? Where's the setting? What's the conflict? How does it resolve?
2. Step back and examine all your brilliant ideas. At this stage, I like to group my ideas into three sections. Keep it broad, for example what content would you like to include in the beginning of novel (conflict & rising action), middle (climax and falling action) and end (resolution).
3. Refine and Brainstorm again. Look at your sections and further divide them into chapters. For each chapter, include a list of ideas, in bullet point form of all the content you want to include in that chapter. Again, the idea is to put everything down, do not limit your brain power.
4. Dig a little deeper. Each chapter has a job and that being to build and advance your plot. Examine your outline for each chapter and identify for each:
a.) What is the purpose of this chapter?
b.) Did you accomplish it?
If your chapter does not do its job, rework so that the chapter serves a purpose.
As you write your novel, refer to the outline as it will be instrumental in the construction and flow of your work.
5. Be flexible. Much like my travel schedule, my plot outline was flexible. I found that as my acquaintance with my heroine deepened, I discovered she might not respond to a situation as I had originally planned therefore, I needed to tweak a chapter. And, as my research was ongoing, I would often uncover something interesting and want to work it into the plot. This flexibility allowed me to develop a stronger and more interesting novel.
Your outline is done...GO FOR IT! DON’T WORRY what you’re going to do with the end-product and enjoy the journey of getting there.
Next post, will tackle character development.
Image Source: phys.org and google