who what where when why

Some artists and writers may tell you that they never outline, that they just sit down and let the story unfold as it comes to them. Now while this tactic certainly has it advantages (and cons), we feel that the simplest way to begin crafting your novel is with an outline. An outline is basically a summary of what’s going to happen in your graphic novel.

An outline will help you develop your story fully, weed out any weak (or boring) plot points, and it will help you stay on track. Outlines are easy to edit and can be changed infinite times. Don’t worry: nothing is set in stone!

Outlines are also a great way to get feedback from others. Use your final outline as a way to gauge reader interest and see if your story makes sense.

Drafting Your Outline:

The outline is your place to relay events, problems, and characters in a simplified form. Developing characters into complex three-dimensional people will come later (see the Character Development page for more on that).

A basic story might look like this:

1.    Introduction: Four Library and Information Science grad students in New York City set out to make a website about creating the ultimate graphic novel, but before they can finish their project, an evil monster named Bronder steals their idea.

2.    Body: The four students must find Bronder and take back their idea. Fighting, adventures, and lots of collaboration ensue.

3.    Ending: The girls defeat the crazy monster and finally publish their website.

This is clearly a very simplified version of an outline, but the idea is the same. You must first define an issue, problem, or quest for your character(s). The second part, and maybe the hardest, is determining how your character(s) might accomplish (or try to accomplish) their goals. These “body” parts will make up the predominant part of your novel. This is where you will add details and grow the outline from a simple summary into a complex storyline. Don’t worry about identifying chapters just yet: it’s important to get the whole story out first. Format will come later.

Using specific events within your body well help to flesh out your outlines and give you specific scenes to create. You should try to have at least 5 events in your body, but remember that some events will be major events, your main plot, and some will be minor events, or subplots.

write_a_book_outline

 

This is an example of adding events to your outline:

1.    Introduction: Four Library and Information Science grad students in New York City set out to make a website about creating the ultimate graphic novel, but before they can finish their project, an evil monster named Bronder steals their idea.

2. Body:

a. Event # 1-Finding Bronder: The four students decide to look for Bronder in the city sewers. They find an open manhole on 14th street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

b. Event # 2-Arrival in Bronder’s underworld: The girls encounter sewer rats and monsters that try and kill them. They must fight for their lives.

c. Event  # 3-Learning to Cooperate: The students are split into two groups and cannot agree on their next steps. They learn that divided, they are not strong enough to defeat Bronder. They have to work together in order to get their website idea back.

d. Event # 4-Discovering Bronder’s lair and Confronting him: After much turmoil and struggle, the girls find the secret lair and engage in a huge battle over the rights to their website.

e. Event # 5-Redemption and returning to their world: Triumphant, the girls make their way back to the streets. They understand how important each one of them were in retrieving their idea. They also all have a newfound appreciation for fresh air and blue skies.

3. Ending: The girls finally publish their website and are able to help readers create their own amazing graphic novels!

Naturally, as you create your own outlines and events, you will be able to see if you’ve missed anything. After you have finished your outline to your satisfaction, it’s time to convert your outline to written literature, also known as the Script.

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