How To Write An Outline For A Book: 7 Easy Steps

Have you ever found yourself staring at a blank page, wondering where to start? If so, this article is for you! We are going to teach you how to write an outline for your book in 7 easy steps. Ready? Let's get started.

How To Write An Outline For A Book: 7 Easy Steps

What is an outline?

What Is An Outline?

An outline is a system of organizing your thoughts and ideas. Outlines are used in everything from fiction to business plans. They can help you develop a structure for your work as well as help you to focus on the most important ideas.

When writing a book, you can use an outline as a framework for organizing your thoughts. This is especially helpful when you're trying to learn a new craft, such as writing a book.

Typical Outlines

There are different types of outlines, including the following:

  • Outline by theme. This is a good outline for people who are writing nonfiction or science-based books.
  • Plot outline. A plot outline is simple. Beginning, middle, and end. This is a good outline for fiction writers because it helps you to visualize the arc of your story.
  • Story outline. This is a more detailed version of the plot outline. It goes into greater depth and helps you to organize your thoughts about characters, settings, themes, and so on.

What Is The Difference Between An Outline And A Synopsis?

You can think of a book outline as the rough draft and the synopsis as the final draft. The rough draft is just what you came up with on your own, while the final copy may have been edited by an editor.

A synopsis is a concise summary of your work's plot that doesn’t reveal any spoilers or drama that might take place if someone were to read it without reading the whole thing.

A synopsis includes all necessary information about characters and themes but does not spoil whether we find out Derek did murder Jill in Chapter 12.

Synopses usually run between 500-1,000 words. A book outline is like a detailed article about what you plan to write (roughly how many pages) and will likely be closer to a few thousand words.

How long should an outline for a book be?

How Long Should An Outline For A Book Be?

If you're writing nonfiction or science-based books, then your outline needs to be as detailed as possible and may even include research notes that need to go into greater depth than just "chapter one: introduction."

The length of the outline will vary depending on the type of book you're writing. If it's fiction, then your outline should usually not be longer than three pages long.

If you are having trouble coming up with an idea for a nonfiction or science-based book, try doing some research about your topic first and jot down any thoughts that come to mind.

Should You Use An Outline Or Just Start Writing Your Book?

Should You Use An Outline Or Just Start Writing Your Book?

You don't have to use an outline, but it can help you organize your thoughts and ideas. If you're having trouble with writer's block or if you want some guidance about how to structure your work, then writing a book outline is a great place to start.

The Basics Of How To Write Scenes In Books

If you're a fiction writer, then writing scenes is going to be one of the most important things that you need to know about. Scenes are how we build tension and create suspense while reading a book or watching a movie.

Scenes usually take place in only one location and have an action-packed beginning, middle, and end. They also have a specific goal.

For example, a scene could be one of the following:

An argument between two characters that reveals their true feelings for each other or makes it clear what is keeping them apart.

A car chase where someone tries to escape from being shot at.

An action sequence involving people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic society while being attacked by zombies.

In order to write a scene that the reader will be able to visualize, you need to define where it takes place and what time of day it is.

You also have to describe how the characters look, their body language or gestures, and anything else going on in the background so we can get an idea about the context of the scene.

7 Easy Steps On How To Write An Outline For A Book

Writing an outline can help you organize your thoughts, but how do you write one? There are many different ways that authors go about this process, however here are seven easy steps that you can use to write an outline for your book.

  1. Begin by identifying the main idea of your story and make a note about each chapter or scene within this context. For instance, if you were writing a mystery novel and one part of the plot was about discovering who committed the murder, then it would be appropriate to include this in the notes.
  2. Start with an introduction - this is where you will summarize the book and its context. For instance, if it's a business book about marketing you might include something like this: "Marketing is the process of getting your product out to as many people as possible and encouraging them to purchase it."
  3. Outline your main points in a short paragraph each. Include some information about each point to get people excited for what's to come. Each main idea should include ideas that will appear in each chapter or scene, such as setting up the mystery example.
  4. Hook your audience by presenting your first major idea or topic that is related to the title of the book- make them want more!
  5. Narrow down on one big idea per section, while including various examples and case studies if appropriate.
  6. Create a final paragraph that summarizes the main idea of each chapter in your book- these summaries should be no more than two sentences in length for easy reference when you are writing later on.
  7. Finally, you should include a conclusion or summary of the entire book. This will be helpful for you to have this information readily available when you are writing because it can help keep track of what goes where and prevent from losing focus on major ideas.

What Are The Pros And Cons About Writing An Outline

Are there any pros or cons to writing an outline before you write your book? There are many advantages and disadvantages to this process, which is why some people do it and others don't.

The pros of writing a book outline include:

  • Being able to see what chapters or scenes need more work in the planning stages of writing a novel will help you avoid writer's block later on when you are in the writing process.
  • Having a sense of direction and a roadmap to follow will make it less overwhelming for you to write your book from beginning to end, especially if this is the first time that you have written one or done something like this before.
  • If there are any gaps that need filling in then an outline can be useful for recognizing these areas and making changes to improve your book.

The cons of writing a book outline include:

  • For some people, outlining their story can cause them to lose interest in the project because they feel like it's already complete before they've even written anything- this is why many writers choose not to do an outline first.
  • Some people struggle to write their book if they know exactly what is supposed to happen in each chapter- this can make it hard for them to be creative and find the perfect words when writing.
  • Sometimes, writers get bored with writing or lose interest because all of the work has already been done before starting out on a project like this.
  • Some people just consider it to be a waste of time and simply cannot stick to them


How To Write A Chapter Outline For A Novel?

The goal of the outline is to give you enough mapping so that you know all of your plot threads, setting, and characters before writing the first paragraph.
Use it just like a map on your adventures- without an ultimate destination in mind. You can go anywhere with this thing.

Before I start outlining, I spend some time just brainstorming potential settings and plot/character forces (storm on the horizon... evil wizard coming for revenge... tough new girl arrives at school...)

If you're bored, try some character profiles by opening Word or Google Docs, and simply typing what comes to mind about them (try not to overthink it).
Remember these are ideas; don't try too hard yet! Write down any idea that pops into your head.

How To Write A Memoir Outline?

A memoir is a bit different. An outline will look something like this;

I. Introduction 

II. Childhood (learning new skills, defining who you are) 

III. Strengths and Weaknesses (traits) 

IV. Key Relationships (parents, friends etc.) 

V. Key Events (gone on trips and job interviews yada yada) 

VI: Conclusion/Ending Point What You Learned From It All...finish on a high note!

PRO TIP: Consider what you want your readers to takeaway from your memoir; let them know in the final paragraph or page be it an life lessons learned or an exciting memory that had such a big impact on your life!