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Creating a book outline.

So you've got a pretty awesome plot for a book spinning around in your head. You've thought it through loads, fell in love with the characters and you're desperate to write it. There's only one problem. You have no idea how to turn your crazy idea into words and get it down on paper.

Outlining is a pretty cool way to start if you're in this position. The temptation, I've found personally, is to dive into you writing trying to write down as much as you can as quickly as you can, in my experience this never goes too well. I lose direction of my plot and forget where I am in the story. Soon I become disheartened and stop simply because the task looks far too big for me.

This is where outlining comes in. Instead of going full pelt into it, you can brake it down, chapter by chapter. You can see clearly what plot points or sub plot points are taking place in that particular chapter. It doesn't overwhelm but has enough points to keep you focused on the direction that the chapter is going to take. It also makes the whole task look that little bit more manageable. That giant impossible book suddenly is broken down into smaller manageable chapters. 

I've been dawdling and slowing writing my book for the past year. I love doing it but due to college, work and being a leader at my local guide unit, I find it hard to sit down and stay focused on my wring project. I start writing but then I get reminded of a assignment that I really should be doing, so I stop or I start but then I'll get a message from one of the other leaders at guides asking if I can sort out an activity for the next meeting, so I have to pause and do that. After a while I lose where I am in relation to the plot. This is where my outline comes in and saves the day. I can have a look at what chapter I'm on and carry on, keeping closely to the plot.

I didn't know outlining existed when I first started my book so naturally I didn't ever make one. But once I discovered what they were I made one. It took a while to find a method that'd work for me. But now I've made one I can really say it helps so much.

I'm not an expert at outlining, I don't know all the various methods or other ways to go about making one, but this is my method to making an outline.

 So in my outline I had four coloured post it notes and matching coloured pens. You can use any sort of paper but I chose post-it notes because I love stationary :)
My book has a main plot and a sub plot, so I included both of these in my outline. My yellow post-it notes showed my basic plot, blue post-it notes were for my sub plot and pink were showing the basic things that happens to my main character in that chapter. I used the green ones last. These just had numbers on them, what represented the chapters.

 So once I had chosen the areas that I wanted in my out line I started writing down my plot. At this stage I didn't use the green chapter sticky notes at all. Just write down your plot, sub plot and what ever else you need. Don't worry about getting them in exact chapters just yet, the main thing is just to get it all down.
 Next you're going to need a big area, I chose my living room table for this bit. So I put down all my green chapter ones in chronological order. And went through colour at a time putting them in the order I wanted my book to go. I spent a good hour on this section, I would put a post-it note down but then when I went back and reviewed what I had done, I found that the plot didn't quite flow right. Or in some cases I added things I hadn't even considered before hand, simply because felt that there was a massive plot hole in my story. So take your time with this section, don't rush and be open to change (and in some cases compromise.)
This section was the longest and needed the most though being put into it. However, it was my favourite step. Once I was happy with my plot I looked down at the table and for the first time was very optimistic about finishing this book. That massive task suddenly wasn't as scary anymore. I had the whole plot down and sorted, all I needed to do now was pad it out and write it.

 Understandably, mu mum wanted the table back eventually, so I couldn't keep my post-it notes there forever. So I typed them up on my laptop. When I was reasearchng how to do this I found that most people either wrote theirs up on excel or word. I used powerpoint, using every slide as a new chapter.

So once that was sorted I printed mine out. You don't have to do this but I personally prefer having things on paper raher than viewing them on a screen (If I it though it possible, I would happily write my entire book by hand.) But I know that many people skip this step and just have the file open on their laptop when they are writing an just flick back and forth between pages when they need. Just do what ever works for you :)

I have a really long way to go with the first draft of my book, I've only just reached about 23,000 words on my 10th chapter. But during the holidays I'm tempted to do a writing challenge to get things moving. I was reading around and some people have challenged themselves to write 20,000 words in 24hrs. That seems pretty impossible to me, but I might try and do the same only 15 or 17,000 words if I'm really wanting to challenge myself. If tht goes well, I might try the full 20,000 I'll most certainly blog about my experience if I do, do that. So that's something to look out for.

So outline has helpted me loads when I've been writing my book and I would really recomend making one before you dive straight into writing.



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