How to Outline Chapter 1: Outlining 101
Hi, Y’all. Welcome back to Writing Wednesdays!
Today is going to be Part 4 of my Outlining 101 series. To review, we’ve talked about brainstorming, creating the plot line from your book idea, and writing hooks and ends for the chapters. Now it’s time to move on to outlining those chapters. Today I’ll be talking specifically about outlining the first Chapter of your book.
The first chapter is probably one of the most important chapters of your book because it’s the first thing your readers will read. So you need to pay special attention to this first chapter to make sure it’s the perfect opener for your book.
So here are the five steps that I personally use when outlining Chapter 1.
Step 1: Define the Purpose
This first step is super easy but definitely a much needed first step of the process and that’s defining the purpose of the chapter. This will actually be the first step in not only outlining Chapter 1 but also sequential chapters after it.
Examples of chapter purposes could be:
- Introducing a new character
- Getting deep in the mind of the main character
- Setting a scene
- Describing the world the story takes place in
- And more…
Whatever the purpose is, it should align with a main plot point or subplot point in the story.
Step 2: Boost the Excitement
Tying in with Step 1, the first chapter of your book should boost the excitement level, so make sure that your purpose will do just that.
Remember Part 3 of my Outlining 101 series about writing chapter hooks and ends? Well, here is where you’ll need to utilize the chapter hook.
Whether buying a book in a store or on Amazon, readers like reading the first few pages of a book before they buy it. So make those pages count and start with an exciting or even emotional opener that will make them want to keep reading.
Step 3: Determine the Main Points
In this step, list the main points you want to make in the chapter. You’ll be referencing your hooks and ends and your plot line here to determine the main points you want to make.
You can have any number of them, but try not to have too many that it bogs down the chapter with an excessive amount of information.
I personally list about four or five main points that I want to address in the chapter.
When I’m saying main points, I’m not actually talking about main plot points. Rather, they would be subplot points, or even more specific, points that will eventually get you to those subplot points and main plot points.
I know that sounds confusing, but think of it like this. Picture all of your main plot points that you created in Part 2. Pick out any one of those plot points, and create points that will need to happen over time that will build up to achieving that plot point.
Step 4: Get Detailed
Now it’s time to get detailed with outlining the chapter. Go into detail about how you’ll arrive at each main point that you just defined in Step 3.
I like numbering each of these points and making each one represent a page, but you can decide on whatever length you think works best for you.
Basically, these are the little points, within the main points, within the plot points. I know, that was an earful. It also definitely took a couple of takes for me to say that right.
Step 5: Cliffhanger
Going back to the hooks and ends I talked about in Part 3 of this series, it’s now time to add in that gripping end and make Chapter 1 finish with a cliffhanger of some sort that will make the reader want to keep going.
I know I said that this video is about outlining Chapter 1, specifically. But you’ll pretty much be following these steps going forward with each additional chapter you outline.
If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you may not know this, but I’m expecting to release my young adult supernatural thriller and dark urban fantasy debut novel, Karma’s Children, by the end of 2018. But you don’t have to wait that long to start reading it. If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll receive Chapter 1 of Karma’s Children, in PDF and Kindle versions, in your inbox completely free. So definitely check that out and see if you can follow how I utilized the steps I talked about today in my first chapter.