Let’s be honest, plot outlines are kind of like Marmite: writers either love ’em or they hate ’em.
Some writers like the fact that outlines structure ideas and help them get organised, yet others find them too constrictive, limiting their artistic flair. Here at Rowanvale Books, we can see both sides of the coin. We understand that plot outlines aren’t the magical cure to solve all organisational issues an author may have, but we also know that some authors simply wouldn’t get their novel off the ground without them. Heck, even the best authors can use a little structure sometimes!
Pictured above is part of JK Rowling’s plot outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
This particular page covers chapters 13 through 24.
C. S. Plocher of The FriendlyEditor.com and WriteLikeRowling.com has taken this transcription-to-legibility process further by creating this plot outline. You can read more about ‘How Rowling Revised Order of the Phoenix‘ by clicking on the above image.
Plot outlines come in many shapes and forms, and it’s important that you as a writer don’t let them get out of hand. I recommend getting some sort of outline sorted in your head before starting to write your first draft. Start with a novel outline (a running summary of what happens throughout your book in as much detail as you like), then move on to condensing this into a briefer chapter summary (a few lines/bullet points of the main events, character developments, etc. that occur in each chapter).
There are numerous benefits to writing a plot summary, which you may find outweigh the drawbacks.
What are your thoughts on plot outlines? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!