Planning your novel

No matter what the genre, you should always draft out a plan or outline which takes the work through from its beginning to its logical end.

This helps you to plot both the main theme and any sub-plots or 'back stories' within a flexible framework. As we saw with the plan of obstacles to Sally's romance in Chapter 7, far more is going on than just her love affair with Nick. Each stage of the plot must be set out within the frame of a chapter-by-chapter outline, so that you can see at a glance exactly where and when each incident occurs.

Using the plotline from Chapter 3 where Sally accidentally kills Mark, Figure 8 shows the draft plan of a crime novel. As you can see, the detail is very sketchy. At this stage the back story, or sub-plot, has been omitted but there will be room within each frame to slot in details of Nick and Sally's romance from our original plan.

An outline should be regarded as a flexible tool, which may be altered and shaped to suit the circumstances. You have to be comfortable with the idea of changing it round, taking some bits out and moving others to more logical places.

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