Friday, September 1, 2017

Planning Your Novel - Part 8 Outlining

by Elva Cobb Martin

Some kind of outline helps keep me on target and is also a great help in writing up the summary or synopsis of a novel. It's kind of like having OnStar or a GPS when traveling.

I am sure there are many ways to outline a novel, but here is what I do.

1) Write the pitch and premise out first. These are the "skeleton's" on which I will plan my scenes and chapters.

2) I keep reminding myself that my outline is very fluid and can be adjusted easily as I write the first draft.

Note: I am saying "outline" but what I'm really doing is listing scenes for each chapter, not doing a formal outline.

As a reminder from my earlier blogs, here is my pitch and premise for Spanish Rose, my historical romance wip.


Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when God is invited into the equation.

 Draft of my pitch:

Marisol Valentin must flee the murder of a Spanish nobleman who molested her by sailing to the New World only to realize no one but God can turn good out of the evil when her exposed past threatens to destroy all her dreams.

Here is the first chapter "outline" which is really a list of actual scenes I now have in my first draft of Spanish Rose.

Chapter 1

1) Rape/murder scene at Cadiz, Spain, stud farm: Marisol Valentin kills                                nobleman Diego Vargas
2) Marisol’s bedchamber, preparing to flee with maid Carmelo
3) On the road/path fleeing to Cadiz Harbor
4) Kidnapped by King’s men (indentured servant kidnappers) for King’s West                      Indies colonies, put on ship
5) Six weeks aboard and Marisol is throwing up in the chamber pot each                              morning on the Magdalena. 
6) English pirates attack the ship. Marisol given sword to defend herself and the                               other women.  (ENDING HOOK)

             (Carmelo dies of fever on pirate ship but told later as brief back story.)

One thing I always plan is an Ending Hook to all my chapters that will hopefully motivate the reader to keep reading to see what happens next.

I actually wrote 3 different openings scenes for this novel and tried them out on my critique partners at our S.C. Chapter of American Christian Writers. Next time, I may share the first paragraph of each of the three openings and see which you like the most.

Thanks for stopping by. How do you plan your scenes and chapters? Please leave a comment and share on your social media.

Elva Cobb Martin