How to write a Novel Outline Summary

*This outline is based on William Victor, S.L., Novel Outline Summary.*

Here is an easy list of questions or guidelines I’ve used from the point I’ve written my story titled, Thorns of Angels. Though there is a time I’ve neglected this outline for a simpler structure, like a basic summary of the whole novel – yes, I do write the whole main plot story in a three-page summary sometimes – but I always come back to this because of how direct and clean it is.

So, for those who are planning to write a novel in the future, I hope this pointer and guideline would help you.

A. Who will be your main character?

This is an easy enough question to answer. A story can’t be without its hero or heroine. They are the cherry on top of the sundae. But never neglect to add details. Get to know your character first. That way you’ll likely understand how he/she would respond in the story you’re writing.

It’s a lot like profiling. 🙂

B. What is the main problem your character has to solve, or an important goal your character has to achieve? Why is it deeply important to your character?

This question focuses more on the main points of your story; for instance, the climax part, in which the main character does an act that’ll resolve a major plot conflict. Mostly, this is the goal of the whole story.

For instance: Harry Potter in the deathly hallows. Harry’s main problem is to defeat Voldemort.

In this, don’t be afraid to write out the whole scene or scenario. It’s best to get a full image out so you’ll what’s the real goal of the story.

C. What terrible difficulties are there between your character and his/her goal or the solution to his/her problem?

This is different from a problem and conflict since these roadblocks are merely there to help your story move forwards as well. It also shows character development and growth. And this is where you can show how you’re character deals with everything until he faces his ultimate conflict.

For instance: In the Hobbit, Bilbo had to overcome his fears to leave the Shire and join Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield on their journey as their thief. (This is only one difficulty Bilbo had to face throughout the book.)

List it down if you must. But remember, connect it back to the main conflict. That’s your end goal.

D. Where and when (in general) will your story take place?

This is necessary so that your readers would have a visual understanding of the world you are creating, whether based on reality or fantasy. But if you’re writing a time-travel novel, it’s best to point out the timeline of the location as it’s happening in the same place.

For instance: The Time Traveller’s wife. 

As for me, I focus on one timeline and occasionally chose two locations to not bore my readers.

E. In general, what type of novel are you writing?

Though I love writing in mixed genres, it’s best to have one theme for your novel. If there are too many things going on at the same time, you’ll lose focus and confuse your readers.

For instance: Julie James’s Something About You. The story is a romance novel between Assistant US attorney Cameron Lyde and FBI agent Jack Pallas. However, love has to wait when Cameron had become a prime witness on a murder. (The novel has a good balance romance, thriller, and action to it. It’s not all flowers and chocolate.)

But don’t be afraid to add an edge. Chicklit is never just about romantic encounters. Fairytale is never just about saving the princess from a wicked witch. Add edge.

F. What are the main events that will move your characters towards (or away from) solving the novel’s central problem or achieving its central goal?

How I tackle this world co-exist with the roadblock ( C ) and challenges the character faces. Each time he/she resolves the problem or not would affect the outcome of the goal. But all decisions are premeditated. Meaning, I plan ahead the choices the characters make. In the end, as planned, the character would reach the destined goal and face the main conflict of the story.

G. Lastly, write a 1-2 sentence of your novel’s main idea.

This isn’t really a question. It’s a blurp of your novel. It’s the main point of the novel, showcasing the character and the main problem he/she has to solve throughout the novel. Or, it can showcase the current situation of your main character. I mostly use the latter for a romance novel.

For instance: My story titled Beautiful Mistake, from The Girl in Suits series. A one night stand turned whirlwind romantic catastrophe between a marketing assistant and an eligible bachelor, who was also her boss.

In this blurp, I gave away who are the characters ( a marketing assistant and eligible bachelor) and pointed out a plot that pushed the story to progress (a one night stand). Lastly, I described the theme of the novel ( a whirlwind romantic catastrophe). This gives the reader a hint of what to expect.

That’s it.

Here is the list of guidelines that helped me create a novel plotline. I know some of the insight here isn’t new knowledge. I’m not trying to give you that. I’m here to share my process of how I write a novel. And this list that helped me write and quipped myself in writing novels over the years.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave them on the comments below or message me here. I’m happy to answer them and help you in starting your novel.