The newer you are to novel-writing, and the more complicated your story is, the more likely you’re going to need some kind of plan or road map. The more experienced you become, the more likely pantsing (which means writing without plotting and having no idea where you’re going) will work for you. Many highly successful writers are pantsers and their method is to write many drafts until they decide a novel is finished.
Through the course of the novel-writing journey, it’s good to experiment widely and gradually find out what works for you. Don’t allow yourself to be put off by terms which have unpleasant school associations, such as “outline.” Most novelists who outline are not using the form of outlining they were taught in school. If you’re put off by the word outline, come up with your own term.
Most writers create their own method by adapting and combining elements from established methods. Most writers find their own personal balance between pantsing and plotting. There’s an infinite variety of combinations and you can find sometimes pretty idiosyncratic methods described on author websites and blogs.
Below are some of the most common approaches to planning:
- Choosing the Best Outline Method (Writer’s Digest)
- 25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep your Story (Terribleminds.com)
- For those who think visually: storyboard your novel (Sly Twin Tiger)
- How to Outline a Novel Using the 60 Index Card Method (Margaret Dilloway)
- Creating a Story Bible: The Basics (RJ Blain)
- Creating a Story Bible with a Template for Scrivener (David Hewson)
Many writers use this method. Some call it an outline, some call it a summary, others consider it the sketch of a first draft.