This is a guest blog post from the University of British Columbia’s How to Write a Novel– Part 1: Plan & Outline course team.
Do you have a bucket list?
If so, did you add “write a novel” to yours? You’re not alone. It seems like almost everyone wants to write a book. The problem is, few of us actually manage to realize this dream. Starting is hard; finishing is even harder. During the famous National Novel Writing Month competition (NaNoWriMo), for example, only about 14% of participants actually manage to complete their 50,000 word first drafts.
Even well-known authors have problems finishing books. Stephen King’s Under the Dome took him 30 years before he managed to complete it, rewriting a failed novel called The Cannibals. Elizabeth McCracken, winner of the Story Prize, spent almost five years working on a novel before giving up. Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger went through three different versions over 20 years of writing, but he still didn’t manage to finish any of them.
Writing a novel is a significant undertaking, a commitment of months—and often years—of time. It’s not unlike building a house by yourself. Most people wouldn’t imagine constructing a home without plans, but that’s how many aspiring writers begin their novels, and it’s one of the reasons why so many of them get stuck and abandon their projects partway through, or end up with a novel that doesn’t work. Having a great idea will only take you so far.
The Benefits of Outlining
Outlining, featured in edX’s first ever novel writing course, can help. How to Write a Novel – Part 1: Plan & Outline, the first in a series of three novel writing courses designed by professors at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA Program, shows you how to write and finish a book by breaking down the daunting task of novel writing into clear, manageable steps, all leading to the creation of a novel outline, the master plan for your project.
An outline isn’t just a set of blueprints or a shopping list. It’s not just preparation for writing: itis writing. By developing your characters and their conflicts, and by mapping out your scenes in advance, you free your creative mind to concentrate on the sentence-by-sentence craft of creating compelling prose when you sit down to write.
This writing course will lead you through the core elements that make up an effective novel outline. You’ll watch interviews with working writers about how they create novels and the ways outlining tools have helped them. You’ll learn the fundamentals of character development, antagonism and why conflict is the engine of storytelling. You’ll explore the finer points of world building and the difference between a character’s internal, emotional journey and the external journey—his or her movement through the events of the story. Finally, you’ll study story structure and architecture, endings and how to integrate writing into your daily life.
At the end of the course, you’ll have written a complete novel outline and be ready to start writing, confident that you know where you’re going and how to get there.
Whether you want to write for literary fame, personal growth or continue on in education, How to Write a Novel – Part 1: Plan & Outline offers the tools and skills necessary to plan a novel others will be excited to read, and most importantly, you’ll be able to finish.
Enroll in How to Write a Novel – Part 1: Plan & Outline today!