How to Organize Thoughts With a Book Outline

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A book outline is one of the best ways for an author to organize her thoughts before beginning to write. It can help you see the skeleton of the book and leaves you room to fill in blanks. A good book outline should include details, structure and a timeline. The outline may change as the book progresses.

  • Start with broad, inclusive headlines, such as the beginning, middle and end. Fill in subheads and details under these headings.

  • Think the book out as you put together the outline. You can clear up a lot of questions, such as when to introduce new characters or when to begin the climax. The outline can serve as a guide as you write and get tempted to stray, which could end up spoiling the whole presentation.

  • Add more subheads as they come to you. You may have an initial setting, and as you work on the outline, details may come to mind that you want to include. Stick them in your outline instead of on random pieces of paper and on notes spread out everywhere.

  • Stick with the outline project until you can see the book within the headings and bullets on the screen. Writing a book requires an enormous amount of discipline and making yourself write a complete outline is a great way to begin this process.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can save yourself a lot of wasted time and energy by going through this exercise. If you can't finish an outline from beginning to end, then maybe you're not ready to start wiring a book yet.

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