Outlining: Write Outlines Step-by-Step (Outline Your Novel, Fiction Writing, Creative Nonfiction) | Andrew Kayson | Skillshare

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Outlining: Write Outlines Step-by-Step (Outline Your Novel, Fiction Writing, Creative Nonfiction)

teacher avatar Andrew Kayson, Creative Writing Teacher

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Introduction - Outlining

    • 2. Chapter 1: The Basics of Making an Outline

    • 3. Chapter 2: Fiction Outline

    • 4. Chapter 3: Non-Fiction Outline

    • 5. Chapter 4: Best Practices

    • 6. Conclusion - Outlining

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About This Class

Is Your Novel Losing the Plot?

Sometimes we can be too close to a story to see clearly. If you find that you begin to change the plot midway, or struggle to think of one at all, this course deals specifically with keeping you on track to create compelling plot outlines your readers will love.

Breaks the Cage Mindset

Outlining is an invaluable tool for a writer. It helps the author to not feel confined by working to a plot summary and instead, demonstrates how, by following best practices, such a framework can liberate the writer to new levels of creativity.

This concise guide also reveals the way to use an outline for those writers who prefer the story to be revealed to them. Both methods help to drive the narrative and create twists and surprises that will captivate your audience.

Kayson, establishes a blueprint for both fiction & non-fiction novels and gives useful examples, while considering the strengths and weaknesses of each method.

Tricks Any Writer Can Learn

Arranged simply and effectively, this guide is divided into four concise and easy-to-read sections that will bring about fast results. These are:

The Basics of Making an Outline – considers the flow of ideas, how to present characters effectively against a developing storyline, and the way to refine major schemes & subplots that drive the story forward.

Fiction Outline – practical methods that inspire ideas in different ways, to help the sequencing of events unfold in a story & keep sight of the key points.

Non-Fiction Outline – four methods to arrange facts & research in a way that will not leave any gaps in the reader’s understanding.

Best Practices – tips to get to know your characters and story more deeply so that your reader will be fully-absorbed in the novel. Kayson describes ways of bringing in flexibility and simplicity to your outline.

Helps Organize Ideas

Outlining is an essential course for any author, new or established, to form a good foundation of winning principles. It takes less than a day to finish but provides a lifetime of benefit.

Following completion, the author will know how to arrange ideas around 5 Key Parts of a Plot, the ways to observe proper sequence, and make an outline work for them, not against them. Characters will be developed more realistically, while turning-points that unfold during the course of the story, will leave the reader gripping the page like a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride.

One Click Away from Getting Amazing Results Fast!

A must-have guide for storytellers to help overcome the problems of weak plot and lack of focus. Create enthralling plot narratives that come to life!

Meet Your Teacher

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Andrew Kayson

Creative Writing Teacher


Andrew Kayson is the teacher of the "Creative Writing" course series. He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Black Ltd. and writes a popular blog on Creative Writing. Kayson turned to teaching several years ago to fulfil his life dream of educating students on the topic of Creative Writing. He lives in New York City.

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1. Introduction - Outlining: Introduction, Welcome to outlining the tips and tricks you will learn in this guide will help walk you through the step-by-step process of writing outlines. The following chapters will teach you all the important things that you'll need to know about making an outline. Learning to make an effective outline is an invaluable tool as a writer. It can help the writing of your book to flow more smoothly, workout more conveniently, and be organized. Chapter one talks about the basics of making an outline. This will give you a good foundation and understanding of what outlining is all about. Chapter to discuss is how you can make an outline for a fiction book. Chapter three teaches you how to make an outline for a non-fiction book. Chapter for lays down the best practices that you should observe when making an outline. Writing a book can be a daunting task. By using an outline, you can make the process of writing a book simpler and easier. But good news is that it's not hard to make an outline as long as you know what you're doing. And outline is an effective tool and is the secret behind an effective book Writing. By learning how to make an outline, you are able to cover a significant part of the actual bookmaking process. Take the outline as a blueprint, the guide or architecture of your book. Please be sure to take your time and have fun with this guide. The writing process truly is an experience to be enjoyed. Allow each section to provide you with tips and tricks to help lighten up the experience so that you can increase the entertainment you derive from the writing process so that you are left not only with an incredible outline, but also with an experience worth remembering. This guide can be used as many times as you require. So be sure to keep it handy for outlines you may set out to write. And lastly, please enjoy. 2. Chapter 1: The Basics of Making an Outline: Chapter one, The basics of making an outline. What is an outline? And outline works as a guide when it comes to writing your book. Take note that a book is a big world. Without a good outline, you can easily get lost in the process of writing your book. And outlined ensures that you stay within the plot that you want for your book and that every scene works toward building your story. It is worth noting that an outline only serves as a guide. A writer has the option whether or not to stick to their outline. Still having an outline is helpful because it will give you a sense of direction. It is also a useful tool to use to ensure proper sequencing of events or scenes in your book, there are different ways to make an outline. This guide will teach you notable and effective methods to outline a book, both for a fiction book and a non-fiction book. Indeed, learning how to make an outline is an invaluable tool that should be in the arsenal of every writer. It can be said that an outline is the book itself, but in a very simplified version. It can also deal with the technical aspects of the book, such as the timing as to when and how certain characters or ideas will be presented. Considered the outline is the blueprint or Foundational Architecture of your book. Who uses an outline? Almost all professional writers use an outline. Some go as far as saying that all writers should use an outline. The use of an outline does not just refer to books, but even in other forms of writing. In fact, it is not uncommon even for article writers to write an outline for their more complicated articles. And outline ensures that the focus of your writing and the proper flow remain concentrated. So if making an outline is really important, are there other known authors who apply them? The answer is yes. Here are some examples to name a few. The author of Harry Potter, JK Rowling, James Salter, Paulo Coelho, Sylvia Plath, Jennifer Egan, William Faulkner, and many other popular writers have admitted the use of outlines in the creation of their works. As you can see, using an outline is considered such an essential skill and tool of a rider that even well-known authors use it regularly. Should you use an outline? Well, just because you're a writer does not necessarily mean that you're required to make an outline before writing your book. So whether you want to use an outline or not is a matter of personal preference. Still, it is worth noting that many writers have realized the benefits of using an outline. The importance of using an outline. It is worth noting that there are some authors who do not use an outline when they write a book. Instead, they simply allow the natural current of the work to drive them somewhere, hoping that it would be worth telling. However, the truth is that many of these authors have outlined the book in their mind. So somehow they still have that sense of direction. Of course, there are also those writers who completely have no idea what they're writing. And just see where the writer goes. After all, when it comes to writing, especially when it comes to writing fiction, there are no hard and fast rules to limit a writer. You are free to write your book in whatever way you want. Just as you're sure, free not to write a book. However, if you want to be sure if your sense of direction and not waste your time writing on so many pages only to realize that they do not make sense, then you should use an outline. An outline is also easy to make, yet it will assure you that your book has a good flow in direction. Now, there are those who say that using an outline will only limit your imagination. So they do not want to use an outline when they write a book. They do not want to use an outline to cage the expression and flow of their ideas. However, this is not the correct way to view an outline. Take note that as a writer, and outline is just an outline. You are not in any way compelled to follow your outline all of the time. For example, let us say while you're writing the setting of the story as stated in your outline, you realize that a different place would be more suitable, then you're free to use that place instead of what's in your outline. Of course, the same principle applies to the other parts of the book. Again, and outline is a helpful guide that will ensure to give you a sense of direction. It should not in any way be seen as an obstacle or kids that limits your imagination. You're strongly encouraged to stretch and explore the beauty of your mind. In fact, even an outline comes from a creative mind of a rider. The outline can be thought of as the skeleton of the book that you hang in the actual story. Outlining for fiction versus nonfiction. Outlining works for any kind of book, whether fiction or nonfiction. However, making an outline for a fiction book is not the same when you make an outline for a nonfiction book and vice versa. This is because of the inherent differences between the two genres. In a fiction book, for example, a novel, you will need to spend more time outlining the plot of the story and the sequencing of the events. You should be able to present your characters effectively and build up the story. And the case of a nonfiction book, there's usually no need to build up any story. Instead, you should focus on presenting the right information. Of course, the proper sequence should also be observed. In a fiction book, the outline will be mostly composed of the setting, the characters, and the different events that take place in the story. And a non-fiction book, the outline will be divided into main topics and sub-topics regarding technical subjects. Although there are differences between making an outline for fiction and nonfiction, the use and purpose of an outline still remain the same. And that is to make writing the book easier and more organized. Plot, outline versus synopsis. Many people use these two terms interchangeably. However, it is worth noting that they're not the same. Take note that when you create a plot outline before even starting to write your book, you then use the outline as your guide as you write, so that you will be guided on how the story should flow. Writers who use plot outlines are usually called plotters since they plot the whole story before they even write it down. This is a good way to avoid writing too many drafts with Rejected scenes and pages. A synopsis is usually written after the completion of the book. It refers to the summary of your story or novel. The synopsis is usually a part of a proposal letter that a writer sends to a potential publisher. A synopsis can be as short as a single page or even up to five pages. A plot outline can also take a single page, but can be longer than five pages. It depends on how much you work on your outline. If you add in more details than it will be able to guide you once you proceed to write your story. And addition to the story, applied outline can include a detailed character story and other events. Some writers are already know their story before they even write it. So if you can come up with the synopsis first, then you can use that as a guide to make a more detailed outline. Understanding the plot of the story. If you are into fiction writing, then it's important for you to know the plot of a story. What is applied? It is what drives readers into the story. It refers to the arrangement of the story parts. There are generally five parts of applied. The beginning or Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denominator or ending. Let us take a look at them one-by-one. Exposition. The exposition is the beginning of a story. Hence, this is the part where you present your characters. Take note that the characters are not only ones that develop your story. You also need to pay attention to the place as well as the time. Unfortunately, some people forget about the element of time. Do not forget that Paris today was much different to a 100 years ago. It's also important to keep the exposition as interesting as possible. You need to make it grab the interests of your readers. Otherwise, they might stop reading your book before they even find out about the good and exciting parts. Rising action. This is where you build up your story. This is usually where a problem is presented and the characters take steps to face or solve the problem. This is also what prepares the most exciting part of the story, the climax, the rising action is where you build up the anxiety and the expectations. This is also the part where you start to target the hearts and emotions of your readers. The more attached the readers are to the characters, the more powerful the climax and the overall story will be. It is important that a writer buildup the story effectively. Otherwise the story may become boring to the reader. Climax. This is known as the turning point and the most exciting part of the story. This is where the emotions are at their peak. Nothing is ever the same as this point. This is where real and solid changes take place. Usually immediately right after the climax, everything takes a downhill, relaxes and prepares for the ending falling action. This is the part where the story falls and takes a downhill turn, which leads to the ending of a story. Here, the story usually comes together and the missing pieces are finally resolved. This is also where you reward your audience. Take note. Your readers normally associate themselves with the protagonist in the story. So you use this part to show them how the protagonist is rewarded for all of his or her labor. This is also a good part to impress on the readers The moral of your story if there is any denouncement, This is the ending of the story. Here, the loose ends are tied and the questions are finally answered. Of course, it can be a happy ending or a sad ending. A story can even have an open ending where there is technically no end and you leave the reader the final conclusion of the story. Why is it important to understand the plot? As a writer? It's important for you to understand the plot. When you make an outline, you actually work on the plot of your story, such as how you're going to begin the story. How do you present your characters, the time and place, et cetera? Before then, you move on to the rising action, then the climax, and so on. As you can see, it's important to have a good understanding of the plot because the story revolves around the plot that you said. There are also writers who make an outline by simply filling in the parts of the plot with details. 3. Chapter 2: Fiction Outline: Chapter two, Fiction outline snowball method. The snowball method is one of the most popular techniques for making an outline. Just like rolling snowballs that get bigger and bigger as it rolls downhill. The snowball method starts with just a simple topic idea or a scene. It will then be continuously developed and it will branch out to more ideas, more scenes, and other parts of the story. For example, let's start with the simple idea of a man who falls in love with a woman. Let this idea be the very center of the snowball. This will also be the main theme of the story. We now branch out a little and give them each a name. Let us say that the name of the man is Jack and the name of the woman is meaner. So now we have the protagonist of the story, as well as the central theme of love. Of course, Jack cannot just fall in love with mean out of nowhere. So we add another part to our snowball. Let us say, for example, that Mina is in need of money. She then applies for a job at a nearby restaurant which happens to be owned by Jack. Let us say that meaner is able to get the job as a waitress and then she works as a waitress and gets to meet other people who work at the restaurant. Again, this is another part of the snowball. When working as a waitress one day, Mina encounters a very rude customer. Again, we let the snowball turn and we simply continue to add more information or details. For example, let us say that the root customer is one who complains and calls for the manager of the restaurant who happens to be Jack as well, the owner. Then jack is able to put the situation under control. That evening, Jack calls Mina to his office for a meeting. Minos anxious about it because she does not want to lose her job. Again, we simply let the snowball turn and gather more details, contrary to what she has expected. Once she's already in the office, Jack appears to be very polite and even apologizes for what happened that day. This is simply how the snowball method works. Simply put, you just have to keep adding more and more details. If you continue to do this, then you will soon come up with a very short story or novel ed, or even a novel from one small snowball, you simply let it roll and roll and gather more details and details to turn into a big snowball or a complete story. Also, do not forget that you are writing an outline, not just a story. So keep it simple and short. But be sure that the main points of the story or they're pure summary. As the name implies, a pure summary outline is the kind of outline that is composed of summaries. This is like the short version of your entire book or novel. You simply have to summarize everything such as chapters, seems, and others. The idea behind this method is to write down your whole story from beginning to end, but only write down a compressed version. To do this, just write down the important parts or highlights. You can skip all forms of dialogues and just focus on telling what's happening in the story. For example, Anna is looking for a job and applies as a journalist. She gets the job. And as she works as a journalist, she gets to meet Ryan, a photographer, who happens to work in the same company. Despite their busy schedule, they do their best to make time for each other. One day, Anna is in an accident and Ryan does his best to server to save her life. He has to go into the ancient forest and get a golden apple from a mysterious tree. Heave interest into the forest and meets gold 4v, a friendly elf. Gall Dorf helps him find the mysterious tree and battle the Dark which of the forest. By doing so, he frees the imprisoned l and also saves Anna from dying. They live happily ever after. As you can see, every part of the story is compressed, but it's still complete. All that you need to do is to fill in the details. But good thing here is that you're already given a clear roadmap or guideline as to how your story will flow from start to finish. In fact, by using this approach, you will already be able to imagine your story as a whole. And all that you need to do is to write down the details to make the story come alive. The pure summary is one of the best ways to make an outline. Just summarize every chapter or sub chapter from the beginning to the end. When done, you will have a complete story. All that you need to do is to clarify every point by adding in more details. Skeletal outline. You've probably learned this kind of outline in school or for any other academic purpose. The key to this method is to input the core points in the right order that will best present your story. This is an effective way to get a bird's eye view of your story, including its overall structure. Take note that the structure of a book or story is essential. A book that is poorly structured, whether fiction or nonfiction, will most probably have problems with being disorganized and I've confusing contents. A skeletal outline will allow you to easily reform your story or book, which will allow you to create the maximum impact out of your story. Let us take a look at a simple example of a skeletal outline exposition. The setting of the story takes place in a small village called system. The story introduces Adam, who was a farmer. The story then introduces Monica, the daughter of a rich businessman. Rising action. Adam meets Monica as he tends farm of her father. They get to know each other for some days. One day goblins attack the village of Sister. Monica is held hostage by the garland climax. Adam fights the goblins and saves Monica. The story also reveals that they both share the same neutral feeling for each other. It is found that Adam is actually a royal blood and owns a kingdom. Falling action. The father of Modelica allows Adam to marry his daughter. Denouncement. Adam and Monica get married and everyone is happy. They all live happily ever after. Take note that this is just an example of a skeletal outline. It may be shorter or even much longer than this. The important thing is the plot to the story and the events properly. It's also worth noting that this kind of outline is not just applicable to fiction writing. You can also use it for nonfiction works. This will be discussed in a lot more detail later in the guide. A good thing about this approach is that it allows you to see the structure of your book more clearly. Usually a skeletal outline clearly divides the book into parts, and it's just composed of single lines. When taken together, they are compose a whole story. Bullet outline. A bullet outline is one of the most common types of outlining. In fact, this is one that is widely used by people, even if they do not read about it with a bullet outline, you simply have to make notes in bullet form as to what will happen in the story. For example, Lisa is an accountant. One day she meets Mr. Gibson, a high-stakes gambler. They get to know each other better. They fall in love with each other. However, mr. gibson, gambling addiction starts to become a problem and begins to affect their relationship. Lisa tries to help Mr. Gibson and does her best to save their relationship, and so on and so forth. This is an example of a bullet outline. So how do you use this outline? It's actually fairly simple. Using the example. At first you expound on the part of the outline that says, Lisa is an accountant. A good way to do this when you actually write your novel is to describe the nature of leases work. Make it as meaningful and interesting as possible. If you look at the next part of the sample outline, the next part is one day she meets Mr. Gibson, a high-stakes gambler. Of course, you would not write this line as it is. Rather, just like the first bullet, you make it more details. How did they meet? Perhaps Mr. Gibson starts to have money problems and needs an accountant to save his business. You can explore and expand on this once you actually start to write the book. Take note that this single bullet alone can take a whole chapter. This is just to give you an example of how to use bullet outline more effectively. A bullet outline is a very simple yet effective method. Another benefit of using this kind of outline is that it gives you a lot of room to exercise your imagination once you start to write the story, the outline focuses more on the flow of the story instead of what's actually happening in the story, it is common to use a bullet outline on a per chapter basis. Many writers first prepare an outline in bullet form before they begin writing a chapter. This way, they can be sure that they know the direction of the story. Every bullet point is also usually short. So it would not be hard for you to follow it. Once you have a well established outline in bullet form, then all you need to do is fill in the details of every bullet point and not worry about the direction that your story will take. Chapter outline. A chapter outline divides the story into chapters. Every chapter will then have an outline of what's going to happen in that particular chapter. Here's an example. Chapter one. The meeting. Nowhere calls for all the soldiers to attend to secret meeting. Every soldier attends the meeting except for JSON. Jason, The number one soldier in the world, wakes up in the hospital with amnesia. Even though Jason is not able to attend the meetings that by Noah, Noah is soon able to follow his tracks in visit him at the hospital. Noah reminds Jason who he really is. As you can see from the example, the book will be divided into chapters, and every chapter will then be divided into subtopics or events that take place in the story. A chapter outline is a good method, especially if your particular with every chapter in your book. As is usual, only the main points are included. This is to give room for you to exercise your creative imagination when you write the story. The outline is just enough to give you as to what will happen next and avoid the situation where you get stuck not knowing how to make the story flow continuously. Our chapter outline is also one that is commonly used by writers. Sequence outline. A sequence outline, but more focus upon the sequencing of the events in the story. However, it still outlines the important points. So even this method alone would be enough for you to get started writing your book. Here is an example of this kind of outline. One, Diane, still a very young child, is baptized as a witch. To her parents were killed for practicing sorcery. Three, she's shown grows into one of the most powerful witches. For Diane meets King Gregory, the man who had ordered her parents to be burned at the stake, and so on and so forth. As you can see, there's a fine outline of the sequence of the events. If you're the type of writer who finds it hard to stick to the flow of your story than a sequence outline may be the one for you. Although you can add in as many details as you want, it's important to stick to the sequence. Otherwise, a change may have major effects on the story as a whole. Take note. If you mess up with even just one part of the sequence, then you should check out what affects the other parts. Are they still logical enough when taken altogether? This method is also commonly used by writers. It's also like a bullet forum outside, but is more particular with the sequence of the events and the flow of the story. Flowchart outline. This approach makes use of a flowchart. This is similar to a sequence outline, but makes use of a chart that is also in proper sequence. Here's an example. Adam works as a painter. He attends an event for artists. While at the event he sees and meet stellar, he falls in love with her at first sight, and so on and so forth. As you can see, the seams or parts of the chapters are reflected due out this flowchart. When you finally start working on the book, then you will add in details to every point in the chart. A single part of the flow chart can cover a few pages up to a whole chapter depending on what's happening in the story. So for example, let us take the first part of the flowchart. Atom works as a painter. When you write this in your book, you can then expound on this topic. You describe the nature of his work and you can also write and show what happened in his life as a painter. As you can see, just these things alone can take many pages, even a whole chapter. That thing with a flow chart method, just like any other outlining method, is for you to pinpoint the main parts of the story and ensure that you arrange things in the right order. Once everything is set, then you simply have to add the details when you write the book. Visual outline. If you are fond of drying, then this style of outlining, maybe the one for you. When you use a visual outline, all that you need to do is to draw the main events in a story, especially its plot. Take note that instead of writing in words, this approach lies in drawing and making figures. For this, you may want to use a notebook. You can fill each page with a drawing that would illustrate what the scene will be. You then follow it up with another scene on the next page, and so on and so forth. Even if you cannot draw, well, you can still use this approach. After all, just like any other outlines, this is something that you do not need to show anyone else. An advantage of using drawings instead of words and making an outline is that you'll have more room to play with the words as well as for the exercise of your imagination. This is because every drawing can have diverse meanings and significance. If you wanna style of outline that will give you maximum use of your imagination once you begin writing your book, then perhaps using a visual outline is a good idea. However, the drawback is that this kind of outlining may not always work for everyone. In fact, the very reason why you want to make an outline is to have a good sense of direction. When you finally write your book, the risk is that you may not be so inspired when you finally write your book, that the drawings may start to look boring or empty to you. 4. Chapter 3: Non-Fiction Outline: Chapter three, non-fiction outline, pure summary. And just like for fiction writing, you can also use the pure summary approach for nonfiction writing book. When you use this approach, simply make a summary of the information. This means that you do not have to explain anything. Just make a summary of every chapter in the book. For a subtopics, you can simply write a one to two sentence summary. Again, this is just a summary. So there's no need for you to expound or explain anything. Still, it is worth noting that when you read a summary, the stories must be coherent and logical enough. In other words, it must still be a complete story with proper flow and structure. However, of course, you do not want it to be too detailed. After all, it is just a summary, which can be a summary per chapter or even per subtopic and every chapter. The important thing is for the summary to mention the main points of the book. This will also ensure that you will not forget about them when you use this method. Then it is also important that you pay attention to the sequence of the information. A common rule in nonfiction writing is to start from the basics and then gradually branch out to more complicated matters on the subject. Non-fiction, you're not expected to make a well detailed summary considering that there is a chance that you still need to learn more specific details about the topic and question. Of course, if you know exactly what you're reading about, then you may only require a minimum level of research. However, if you're writing about something which you do not have a lot of knowledge in, then there'll be little that needs to be summarized. If you want, you can just research and study the subject first before you start to make a pure summary outline. However, do not let lack of research prevent you from using this approach. After all, you have the convenience of having open books and information, both when you make an outline and when you write the book. Skeletal outline. A skeletal outline is Carmen and nonfiction writing, especially when the book deals with a technical topic. This is because the skeletal Outline offers exactly what you would need for nonfiction writing. When you use this approach, you begin with a subtitle, which may be the name of your chapter. You then identify and specify the skeletal outline of the book with the topics and subtopics that you will want to discuss. Needless to say, this follows the same format as the one for fiction. However, unlike a fiction book, this does not follow any plot. Rather it has a more logical flow to it. For example, when you write a book about Bitcoin, you should not talk about Bitcoin mining right away. And instead you should start with the basics such as what Bitcoin is, what cryptocurrency is, and others. And then make your way up from there. Bullet outline. A bullet outline is excellent when you deal with specifics. For example, when you make an outline of a chapter or a sub chapter in a book. Also, what you can do is to highlight the name of the chapter and then simply outlined in bullet form which you want to talk about for that part of the book. For example, let us say you want to write a book about the crypto currency Bitcoin. Here is an example outline. Chapter one, the basics of Bitcoin. What is Bitcoin? What is cryptocurrency? What is cryptocurrency wallet. Who uses Bitcoin? How does a Bitcoin transaction work? And others. As you can see, every point is made clear. All that's left for you to do is add the details. Of course, you can further use that bullet outline like this. Chapter one. The basics of Bitcoin. What is Bitcoin? A digital money uses cryptography. What is cryptocurrency? Cryptography for secure communication end transaction. What is a cryptocurrency wallet? A place to store a cryptocurrency. Kinds of cryptocurrency while it's hot and cold wallets. Who uses Bitcoin? Anyone with an internet connection? How does a Bitcoin transaction work? Input recipients while it and address amount? As you can see, this makes it more detailed and it'll be easier to fill in the information once you start writing the book. When you write nonfiction, outlining your work is more practical. After all, nonfiction works did not deal so much in one's creative imagination. The important thing is for you to be able to cover the technical details and be able to present them effectively. Chapter outline. Our chapter outline is one of the simplest ways to make an outline for a non-fiction book. Basically, you simply have to write the name of the chapter and then add in the titles of the sub-topics within a chapter. This is also like a bullet form of outlining. But as more general, of course, you can also make it a more specific thing by further outlining the subtopics, just like in bullet outlining. And fact, both kinds of outline are very similar to each other. The first step in a chapter outline is to set the titles of the chapters. Again, as a rule in nonfiction, you should start with the basics. The reason is that you must first establish a foundation for your readers before you delve into more complicated matters. A common mistake committed by writers is to assume that the reader already knows and understands the topic. If you come to think of it, this understanding is highly flied. Afterall, a reader would not have to waste time reading your book if he's already aware or if he already understands what's written in your book. So never assume that the reader can easily understand what you write. Instead, I have an open mind and consider the reader as someone who knows nothing about your subject. Of course, this is subject to some exceptions. For example, if your target readers are really those who already have an idea of your subject. A good example of this would be the advanced guides or manuals. Once you have the titles of the different chapter ready, then it's time for you to add the subtitles that will be placed under each corresponding chapter. You should be careful about the subtitles because they are the ones that will lead the development of the book. Hints, they are the ones that will form the structure of the book. Just stick to the basic rule of starting with the basics and then work your way up and you'll be fine. This is just a matter of presentation. Feel free to try different combinations until you find the one that feels most natural and convenient for a reader. The number of chapters will depend on the kind of book that you write, as well as the number of words written in the book. Normally, the longer the book is, the more chapters that will include. When you write your outline, be sure to pay attention to how many chapters your book will have, as well as the number of subtopics that you will be using. It helps if you have more sub-topics so that you will not run out of things to write about. However, take note that book writing is not about the length but of the quality of the book ends. It is important that you focus more on the quality of the writing than the number of chapters or subtitles that your book has. Research. Although not considered as a complete outlining method when it comes to nonfiction writing, research is the main tool that you have in your arsenal. Although you're still free to use your imagination, nonfiction writing has certain restraints upon one's writing. The golden rule is that you cannot contradict a fact. Well, except of course, if another set of facts you represent can support your view. Take note that when it comes to nonfiction writing, the facts are your friends, needless to say, and a non-fiction book, almost everything that you write should be backed up by the research or at least verifiable. This is to make your writing more believable and credible. And nonfiction writing, it does not matter how good your outline is if you do not understand the subject. Hence, make sure that you have all the necessary materials to get to know your subject and do as much research as possible. The more that you know your subject, the easier it will be for you to come up with a good outline. And the easier it will be for you to complete the book. 5. Chapter 4: Best Practices: Chapter four, best practices. Know your characters. When you write a story, especially in fiction writing, it's important for you to know your characters. It is worth noting that an outline is not something that you use to get to know your characters. It's important for you to know the characters first. Before you make an outline. Take note that the characters are important as they are the ones that tell and develop the story. At there are not enough characters. Or if you do not know your characters well enough, then the story will not grow properly. Therefore, it is important for you to know and understand who your characters are. And fact, once you know your characters than telling the story will come naturally as the characters themselves will play out in the story. This is the part of writing a story where the writer becomes a mirror observer of his characters. You can allow your characters to lead you. This will give you an idea of what the story will be. And so it will be easier for you to make an outline. If you do not know your characters yet, especially your main characters in the story, then you should give yourself more time to get to know them. You do not necessarily have to know all your characters completely. You will know if you already have sufficient understanding of your characters, when the characters themselves are able to lead and create the story for you. Needless to say, every character must have his or her own persona and should act according to that personality. A suggested way to know your characters is to interview them one by one. This is a common practice used by novel writers. So how does it work? Just imagine talking to your character, asked him questions and see and feel how they respond. This may seem strange to some people, but many writers use this approach. They talked to their characters to the point-like. They feel that they are merely recording or writing with the characters in the story or telling them. Once characters are given a persona and existence in the story, it will seem that they really have an identity in life of their own. Hence, talk with your characters and ask them questions. Learn from them. This way you'll be more able to develop your story. Know your story. Take note that your plot is like the skeleton of the story. Therefore, when you write a plot, it is also important that you already have an idea of what your story is going to be. When you write an outline, it's not important for you to know the minor details and dialogues of the characters. However, it is important for you to know the main points of your story or the main events that will shape your story. These are the things that will constitute your outline. The more that you know your story, the easier will be for you to make an outline of it. After all, making an outline is as simple as recording essential details and skipping dialogues and other things that are considered important to the novel. It is more focused on simply having a worthwhile story instead of discussing all the things that happen in a story. Now, it is also worth noting that many writers write an outline even without knowing their story. How is this possible? Well, they allow the process of outlining to reveal the story to them. To do this, you just need a basic idea. You write it down as part of an outline and then simply add more details to it as you continue to grow your idea. Since you are making an outline, it is not have to be too detailed. And you should just focus on the main points that will help you develop the story. Keep it simple. It is important to keep your outline simple. Remember that your outline should not be a cage that will limit your imagination. Rather, it should serve as a guide that will help you come up with a meaningful story. Therefore, keep your outline simple, including only the main and important points that should be in your story. As a rule, small or minor details should not be placed in an outline except if they're important to the story. The reason why you do not include everything in your outline is to prevent the outline from limiting you to exercise your imagination as you write your story. Again. And outline should only serve as a guide. You also do not have to make your outline beautifully worded. Do not forget that the outline is only for your eyes. So you do not have to spend so much effort and finding the right combination of words. You can save such efforts for when you finally write a book. Instead of worrying about the words that you use, focus on the story that you want to tell, as well as the flow of the events and information. Be flexible. It is worth remembering that an outline only functions as a guide. As such, it is not required for you to always stick to your outline. This is important for you to remember, especially if you suddenly come up with a better idea than the one your outline while writing the story. This is another reason why you should keep your outline as simple as possible. By keeping it simple and just including the important parts of the story, you will have more room to exercise your imagination. It is considered very common for writers to suddenly stray away from their original outline. This is why you should not spend so much time worrying about how your outline is written. After all, it is still just a guide for you. And being the rider, you are free not to follow your outline. Flexibility is important. Normally, the story only reveals itself fully when the rider, only when you pin out draw the story. This may sometimes come as a surprise, even to the author himself. As you write the book. The more you realize what your story is really about. Simply put, as you follow your outline, you are also led to discover more about it. Now from time to time, you may have to change course and take a completely different one. That is what you originally outlined. This is normal, but just be sure to take a better path than the previous or current one. Also, if you ever change your course, you may want to stop for a while and reflect on the direction of your new outline. A normal part of flexibility is to be flexible enough to update your outline? Yes. And outline can undergo so many changes and modifications is to write your book. Take note that you do not need to write new outlines. Rather, you can just edit your current outline little by little. A common mistake committed by writers is to change apart and an outline and then allow the new storyline to lead the way without him knowing where it will actually go, then this happens. And it is good as writing without an outline. Now, I'm not saying that this approach is wrong. Again, there are no hard and fast rules about how to write a book. However, if you are the type who cannot write properly and organize your thoughts without a guide, then what you should do in this case is update your outline. Yes, updating an outline is something that you should do every time you make even minor changes to your outline. The outline must remain logical and coherent or Throughout. This will ensure that your novel or the story itself will be logical, coherent, and well-structured. After all, you're very story is just the outline itself. Only that now it has more details. For example, if your outlines as that Samantha is beautiful than your story will make descriptions or show certain scenes to show just how beautiful she is. Still. The very essence of writing can be traced back to your simple outline, outlining and being flexible go hand in hand. Although there are writers who stick completely to their original outline and do not let anything divert their path, which is not wrong per se. Sometimes it's good to be more open and allow changes to take place, especially positive changes have a clear premise. Even before you work on an outline, you should first establish your premise. Ask yourself, who is my main character? Where does the story take place? What is the conflict in the story? What will be the turning point of the story? What message do I want my story to communicate? Who will be the enemies and the story? Once you have answered all these questions, then it means that you have a good idea of what your story will be. Take note that these are just basic questions. You are free to expound and ask more specific questions. But these questions will reveal to you the premise of your story or what it's really about. Now, in case you find it hard to enter these simple questions, that it only means that you need only think about your story even more. Do not forget that an outline can only be made if you have a story to tell. Although an outline does not need a complete story, it requires that its essential elements should be present. When you ask yourself these questions, It's important that you be completely honest with yourself. It is unfortunate that some writers delude themselves in hate saying, I don't know. Take note that this is a normal part of the writing process. The more that you admit to yourself, the parts in your story that are still unclear, the more you will understand what your story is really about. After all, the act of writing is still an active self-discovery. You do not need to have all the answers right away. It is normal to accept that you do not know the answers to some questions. The important thing is not to stop to seek for an answer. Of course, to do this, you need to reflect and delve more into your story. Take a break. Just as you take some breaks, have finished writing a book. You should also give yourself time to a break when you're working on an outline. It's not uncommon for professional writers to spin days just to work on their outline. If you're just starting out to learn how to write an outline, feel free to take as much time as you need. Just don't forget that and outline should make writing the book easier in the long run. Unfortunately, some writers get too caught up riding their outlines that they fail to even start writing the actual book. You will also be able to think much more clearly and be more creative if you allow your mind to relax. And fact, writers are strongly advised to give themselves a break from time to time, even while working on the actual book. It is not uncommon to find writers who go to the beach and spend time on vacation while working on a book. This is because you will be a much more effective writer when you allow yourself to rest with a fresh and rejuvenated mind. You will be able to use your creative talent more effectively, choose and organize your ideas. A book comes from an outline. But where does an outline come from? Yes, and outline comes from ideas. However, it is worth noting that in the process of writing a book, it's very common to experience being bombarded with lots of ideas. For example, let us take a simple example where you present a protagonist and the story. Let us say that your hero is a man who happens to work in secret service for the government. There are tons of different ideas that you can use to show this. There also are many ways by which the story can go. Does he have superpowers? Is he going to die and then resurrect? Or is he just an ordinary person who just happens to be good at what he does. And maybe he's not even good at his job and merely relies on luck. The thing is that although outlining is a way to record and organize your ideas, you should also choose the idea is that you'll be using in your story. Now, once you've organize the ideas in your mind, it will then be easy for you to plot your story by making an outline. It is simply hard to make an outline when you know that you yourself do not know your story. Observe proper sequence. When you write your way outline, it is important for you to pay attention to the proper sequence of the events or information. If it is a fiction book i, then the building and arrangement of the story should be in proper order. If you're writing a non-fiction book than the information should be in an ordered sequence that will make the information more understandable to your audience. This is important, especially if you're writing about a technical topic. For a fiction book, you should build up the story from beginning up to the end. In case of a nonfiction book, then you should share the information by starting from the basic details and then continue building your way up to more complicated topics or subtopics in the book. Making an outline is the best way to set the proper sequencing of events of your story. Unfortunately, some writers still write the bulk of words only to end up with a confusing storyline. By making an outline, you can easily work on the sequence of events of your story. In fact, you will be able to view and imagine your story completely. And all that will be left for you to do is to add in the details. If you ever find yourself having a hard time putting things in the right sequence of ideas or events than it is usually a sign that you should pause for awhile and try to understand what is really going on in your story. Sometimes the logical sequence itself will be the one to guide you as to what to write next, focus on the main points. Making an outline is simply making a list of the important points of the book in proper order. You should focus on the main points. For a fiction book, The main points will be the beginning of the story, the rising action, climax, falling action, and the development. In the case of a nonfiction book, the main points, of course, would relate to the important details regarding your subject. It is worth noting that some minor details may also be considered a necessary element in the development of a story. In this case, you can include the set minor details in your outline. But what are the main points? How do you know if a certain details should be considered a main point and be included in your outline or not. Well, it depends if the detail or information is something that is important in building up the story than it is to be considered a main point and should be included in your outline. However, if it is something that your book or story can do without, then it is just a minor detail. The important thing about making an outline is to give you a good sense of direction. It has the function as a logical roadmap of your thoughts, even if you forget about your story. After all, it is not uncommon for writers to think of an exciting plot only to have it slip away before they're able to get it written down completely. Whenever this happens, a possible wonderful story is lost to the world. It does not have to be perfect. And outline does not need to be perfect. Keep in mind that it's just a guide. Hence, there is no need to follow it to the letter. Even if you come up with what you believe to be a perfect outline, note that it is still just an outline. As such, you should not allow yourself to be limited by it. It is also worth noting, no matter how perfect you think your outline is, there is still a chance that it may be revised or modified. This is true, especially in the case of novels. It is not uncommon for writers to start at something specifically, only to be taken by the story somewhere more beautiful than they had imagined before writing the book. Does this mean that writing an outline is not important? Of course not. And outline assures that you maintain sense indirection in your story. However, it is worth noting that it is considered common for writers to make changes to their outline several times as they write the book. Now, you should be careful when you do this. As a general rule, you should not change your original outline. You must stick to it. However, as an exception, you may change your outline if you're able to come up with a better version of the story and has to make the story more exciting or meaningful for the readers. If not, then you need to stick to your outline. This is the reason why you should not aim to have a perfect outline, because such a thing simply does not exist. Although you do not expect an outline to be perfect, it is not mean that the outline can just contain every thought that you think would be good for your story. And outline must still be carefully written. How can you expect for your outline to guide you if the idea is do not match up well with one another or if the outline itself fails to follow a logical sequence. Hence, it is important that you work on your outline, but do not aim for perfection. Having the right ideas and correct flow would be enough. Now, just because an outline does not have to be perfect, does not mean that you should not give it as much time as it deserves. The outline, after all, serves as the foundation of your book. Therefore, take as much time as you need when making your outline, which leads us to the next topic. Time. Remember that an outline is just a guide. Although an outline can be regarded as important, do not forget the fact that an outline is still just your guide. Therefore, you are free to stick to it while you write a book or totally abandoned it halfway. However, this does not mean that an outline is no longer important. You need to understand this so you will not end up like other writers who get too obsessed with their outline. Remember to see and use your outline as a guide in writing the book. You're always free to change or revise your outline as many times as you want in any way you want. Take your time. When making an outline. You should take as much time as you need. Although your outline will not be part of your book, it's still the foundation of your book. Consider it like a business plan or blueprint of your masterpiece. Although you can make an outline and as fast as a few minutes, it's not uncommon for professional writers to spend even a week to work on an outline. This is true, especially if you want to create a high-quality buck. You should also learn to organize and manage your time. Unfortunately, there are many writers who commit the mistake of procrastinating. That temptation to procrastinate is something that you should watch out for when you write a book. A good way to avoid procrastination is to set daily objectives. For example, aim to be able to finish 15% of your outline every day. Also, take note that writing an outline is just part of the process. The more important part is for you to write your book, which will take more time and effort than writing an outline. Have your sources ready. This is true, especially if you work on a non-fiction book. You should have your sources ready. This is because sometimes it's hard to look for your sources during the time of actual writing. A good way to keep your outline more organized is a cite your sources in the outline. One of the main reasons for using an outline is to make the work of writing the book easier for you. You do not have to cite your sources formally. After all, the outline is your own private document. You do not need to show it to your readers or anyone else. The purpose of having your sources ready and to cite your sources is for you to be ready when you write your book. So that when you write your book, you will know exactly where to look for the information as you fill in every major and minor topic in your outline. Even fiction writers can use the same approach. After all, mini fiction stories also incorporate real life events. Take for example, the vinci code, which combines fiction with non-fiction information. When it comes to writing non-fiction, it's important to take note that you should stick to the facts. If you want to force your creative thoughts and ideas into the page, then you might want to consider shifting to fiction writing. It is worth noting that readers of nonfiction books read not mainly for entertainment or pleasure, but as to get as much useful information as possible. They do not care about your opinions unless your views have a good basis and foundation. Hence, it is important to identify the kind of genre that you want to write in even before you make an outline. This is because the style of writing and even the expectation of the readers have certain distinctions between fiction and nonfiction writing. As for the sources, be shorter quote from credible sources, if possible, use internationally known and accepted formats like APA or Chicago in citing your sources. Practice. When it comes to learning how to outline properly and more effectively. Nothing beats practice. So if you want to learn how to make an outline, didn't just start practicing it. Make an outline for the next books that you write, no matter how much you get to know about it, it remains true that the only way for you to appreciate and realized just how beneficial making an outline can be is to do it. Learning how to write an outline is just like learning to write good books. This means that you simply have to practice it by applying it regularly. If you get good at writing outlines, then the task of writing a book becomes simpler and more manageable. You don't have to learn the different ways to outline a book. After all, when you make an outline, you only need to use one method. If you want. You can combine two methods at once. There is no strict rule as to when a particular method should be used over another. Therefore, feel free to use the one that you're most comfortable with. For those writers who are against the use of an outline. Indeed, there are some writers who do not like the idea of using an outline. It is worth noting that this guy does not make it a requirement or an obligation of a rider to use an outline, but merely shares how helpful an outline can be in the process of writing a book. Therefore, if you strongly prefer not to use an outline, and then you're free to do so. And the world of writing a book, whether or not you use an outline does not matter in the end, what matters is the final product, which is the book itself. There are writers who use an outline and know for sure how useful it is. While there are those who simply allow the story to unfold like a surprise. The only disadvantage of not having an outline is that it can commonly follow a story only to meet a dead end. Or you just realize their stories become dull and boring. And outline assures that before you even start working and writing your book, you are assured of a good sense of direction. All you need to do is write. And even if all you do is stick to your outline and not change any part of the story, but merely add in details pursuant to your outline. You can be sure that you will end up with a good book provided that you have prepared a good outline. Once again, it's up to you as a writer whether or not to use an outline, The best way to find out what works for you would be to give it a try. Write a book without an outline, and then write one that has a proper outline and see which writing experience was better for you. And the end, it's not about whether or not you have used an outline, but how much of the book is made your soul grow in the process? 6. Conclusion - Outlining: Conclusion. Thank you for making it through to the end of outlining. We hope it was informative and able to provide you with all the tools you need to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. The next step is to apply everything that you've learned and start making an outline of your book. Learning how to make an outline is one of the best things that should be an every arsenal of every writer. It's useful and makes the book writing process easy and manageable. If you're a beginner, you might encounter some difficulties writing an outline for the first time. The key is not to be too strict about it. It is worth noting that the methods revealed here are also just guides as the writer have all the right to make your own modifications. In fact, you may want to develop your own way of making an outline. The important thing is for you to know and understand how to use it and to help you in writing a book. Keep in mind that there's really no right and wrong way of making an outline as long as it's able to help you write your book. After all, the very purpose of an outline as to help a writer and make the process of writing a book simpler, easier, and more organized. When you write a book, it's not uncommon to suddenly feel lost. Some writers have a story to tell, but do not know how to start or how to maintain a smooth flow of the pages. This is why making an outline is important. There's a big universe out there. And you need to place only the right stuff into your book in proper order. Indeed, the task of a writer is not an easy thing. But if you learn how to use an outline, then you have an invaluable weapon that you can use to make the writing process so much easier. Good luck.