Nano November: How Do You Outline?

Donut  author photo crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76

I’m planning on writing two novels during this year’s NaNoWriMo Challenge because a. why not? b. I like a good challenge, and c. I already promised on my website the publication dates for the three novels in my For the Love of Donuts Series and I’ve only written one book so far.

I didn’t outline Donuts in an Empty Field (For the Love of Donuts Book 1) because I had planned up until the first day of nano to write “The Geocache Killer” but felt I was not ready (I’ve never written a thriller or mystery and I didn’t properly outline or plan that novel). I’ve always wanted to write about my life and I had great ideas for a fictionalized version of my best high school moments with my then best friend and the Donuts Series was born.

This nano is different. I need to plan. I need to outline. I’ve written approximately 6,500 words of outline for both novels and my story summary has come along quite nicely as well.

Their friendship has been the one unbreakable thing, the one certainty in their lives, but Nichole Adams and Vanessa Smith are developing into their own persons and their individual life dramas distract them from each other.

Vanessa has never had many friends in her life and even though she wanted to stay friends with Nichole, she met new people in college and is moving on. She has school, she has social activities, and a new group of friends even though she can’t seem to find the right guy.

Nichole is jealous of Vanessa’s ease of everything in the real world. Nessa has no trouble with jobs, money, school, or getting and going places. Nichole, on the other hand was preemptively kicked out of her mom’s house after graduating high school and has been floundering ever since. The only thing she has easy in her life is flirting and getting dates, or at least a guy that will let her crash at his house. Nichole doesn’t always have the best of luck with men.

Forever hopeful that things will change, Nichole still clings to the hope that Vanessa will come back to their friendship and be the best friend from high school that Nichole misses. When guy after guy doesn’t work out for her, Vanessa changes more and more of her personality to attract the right guy, drifting farther and farther from who she really is. Something’s gotta give and this story of how friendships get off track, lies become reality, and bad luck tails bad choices will bring you in and around the little town of Sarasota, Florida that you grew to love in book one of the series – Donuts in an Empty Field.

Here is how I outline…

I start with my basic story premise or my longer than it should be elevator pitch with the basic meat of the story and then I work up the main elements of the story from there. I then fill this type of chart out like so for each chapter. To have two stories running parallel, when I started the second outline I did a lot of referencing to the other book’s outline:

Chapter: 1, the Optimist Sees the Donut – Nichole’s Story
Characters: Nichole, Nichole’s roomies
Location: Nichole’s shared home just outside the Sarasota ghetto (off of Central Ave, near their old high school – Booker)
Tension/Problem: Nichole is kicked out of her living space because she can’t pay rent.
Description: Nichole is short on rent this month (again) and her roomies have a community meeting where they have to kick her out if she can’t come up with the money that day. She claims she will get the money.
Don’t forget:
Ideas: flashback to Nichole getting kicked out of her mother’s home and why this happened, show her positivity and hope for striking out on her own and showing her mother and Vanessa that she can be independent and live her life the way she wants.


How do you outline?

3 thoughts on “Nano November: How Do You Outline?

  1. This is very interesting toi me because I don’t outline. At all. I know how. I’ve taught it to students when i used to teach, and made charts and graphs about how-to’s in the most efficient way, but I cannot make an outline for my novels. I’ve tried. I think the problem is that I usually develop the plot backwards. Not always, but mostly. When I start a book, I know whch way the stroy will end and free write the beginning. It ends up that I do a lot of writing that will never see the final stage of the manuscript, but it feels organic and true to the characters.
    I have also given myself a deadline. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I promised myself I’d finish the major writing on the next two books in my current series, and then go back to finish the sequel in my SciFi trilogy (the first one’s releasing next month!).
    So, yeah, your super organized way of doing things is completely alien to me and therefore fascinating to my panster mind!


    • Everybody has their own tried and true (hopefully) method and I know that, even though it’s very hard and it’s work to me, planning out the novel makes for better plotting and noveling and writing for me. And good job having writing goals and plans for finishing your series, I hope you make your deadlines!

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