How I Do My Chapter Outlines
So this article will be about how I do my chapter outlines. Every writer has a different mechanism for how they plan out their books, and especially how they plan out their chapters. Again, this is strictly for plotters, and those who like to plan it all out, though I have added a chapter here or there.
My outlines rely on my principal characters. What that means is that I use multiple points of view. For Jon Drake, I used three character points of view. I started the book with Jon’s
point of view in Chapter 1, and went to Jessica in Chapter 2, and then back to Jon in 3,4, 5, and 6 before switching back to Jessica in 7 and 8. The reader did not get to see Vladimir’s point of view until Chapter 12. From then on, I did a switch every chapter.
I prefer to do a switch every chapter from one character to the next. There are exceptions to this, such as when I do a flashback chapter. I might then continue from a previous chapter to illustrate that the reader will continue to view that character’s point of view.
Character Chapter Balance
In Jon Drake, there were 40 chapters. Because the story is ‘Jon Drake’, the title character got the most chapters for his point of view. Jon received 20. Jessica Hudson, the second major character, got 11 chapters from her point of view, which is still a lot for a character that is not the title character. Vladimir Ramirez, the third principal character, received nine chapters. I like to give all my major characters a lot of time to shine, and it also helps give the reader something special too.
My upcoming story ‘The Twisted Society’ will have more of a balance. Since there are three characters with points of view, and it’s an ensemble story, these three got almost equal time to shine. That is how I like to keep things going.
How could I have forgotten to talk about the plot? Spoiler alert, I did not forget. I saved it for last. I am all about character development. For my story, I like to split the outline into either three or four parts. Part one would feature the start of the story, and the inciting incidents. It is also where you get to know the characters. Again, think of the characters.
Part two features the meat of the plot. You are entering all the adventures these characters go on. By doing so, you enter their world and into their story. It is the most essential part of the story because it keeps the reader hooked.
Part three is where you prepare the reader for the ending of the story and then get ready to land the blow. The blow is the final strike, and this is where you plan to help showcase everything to get your readers to truly marvel at what they just read, and allow them to prepare to not just talk about your book, but help you actively promote it too.
Every author plots their books differently. No matter how you do it, it is important to remember a balance and ensure your characters and plot make sense, and it is something the reader will enjoy.