Novel Outlining: Chapter Guides || YA Ink

Watch on YouTube

You’ve all heard me talk quite a bit about novel outlining. Over the years I’ve used a few different methods to get the same result, but what I haven’t talked about is how I also like to outline my novel while I write. When I outline my novels I start by making a simple chapter-by-chapter outline of my novel of what I want to happen. As I write each chapter, I go into more detail, answering the who, what, where, when and why questions. This means that whenever I write, I have two Word documents open. One of my actual manuscript, and another of my chapter guide. Once I finish writing a chapter in the manuscript, I hop over to my chapter guide and input the information there.

Why Does it Work?

Keeping a chapter guide keeps you organized in your story. You know what happened when and if you forget something you’ve written, you don’t have to jump back into the manuscript, you can just jump back to the chapter in your chapter guide.

The answer to What is the most important (in my humble opinion). If I can’t get a good answer to What, then that means I’ll have some re-writing to do when draft 3 comes along.

 

Find me on Pinterest!

Keep in mind that when you create your chapter guide, you’re the only person who will read it. Don’t worry about proper sentence structure. These are your notes. Use bullet points and write only about what’s important. This is not the place to write long sentences of description.

Side note: You don’t have to create your chapter guide as you go. Sometimes I like to use it after I’ve finished the first draft of my manuscript and I’m getting ready for draft 2. By going through each chapter and answering these questions, I not only see any holes in the plot, but I’m able to see what chapters drag on too much and maybe need a touch of excitement.

 

Download the template or find the template on Pinterest.

Do you think a Chapter Guide will help you craft a better novel? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Picking a Title for Your Novel…My Author Fail || YA Ink

Watch on YouTube

So you may remember my recent post? I said I was revealing the title of my third novel? Not to make it seem like it was click bait–I had all the intentions of revealing the title of my newest novel–but…I may have overlooked one tiny detail. I originally said my third novel was going to be titled Remedy for Memory, but there’s another wonderful Youtuber, Brista Drake, who has a book titled Remedy for Memory. Now Brista has been awesome and said I can title my book that as well, but after feeling a little bit silly for not remembering that was the title of her book (I follow her on YouTube for God’s sake!) it just doesn’t feel right to title my novel Remedy for Memory.

For now, novel #3 has no title, but it will I promise! And when it does I won’t have the same issue!

I wanted to spend today talking about how you should choose a title for your novel. More specifically, if you’ve chosen a title, making sure it will work for you.

Do Book Titles Have Copyright?

The good news is books can have the same title. There is no copyright over titles unless it’s a book that has an “image.” This would be the case for something like Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a trademark, if you used the name in your title you would get sued if it caught their lawyer’s eyes. While you can legally use the same book title as someone else, it’s not always the best idea.

Same Titles?

It’s important to do a Google or Goodreads search when you’re titling your novel. It’s okay if a title is the same as another book, but it shouldn’t be a book in the same genre simply because you don’t want people confusing the two books. Now the book I’m writing and the book Brista published aren’t technically in the same genre, but we use the same marketing techniques. We both appear on YouTube, so our books, and ourselves are bound to bump into each other. With the same titles, things would just get confusing.

Does the Title Fit the Genre of the Book?

Just like you want your cover art to speak for the genre, you want the title of your book to speak for the genre as well. Often times you’ll know a romance novel from a mile away because of the title, and that’s a good thing! A lot of books will get bad reviews because their cover art or title was misleading. Some readers don’t always check what genre a book is, so when they pick up a book with a title like The Floral Night and it ends up being a book with blood and gore, odds are a reader will leave a not-so-good review.

Most of all you just want to make sure the title feels right to you. Play around with a few different options until you find out what’s right for you. And don’t do what I did and announce the book title is absolutely final and you’ve done your research.

What are some of the titles of your novel/works in progress? Share them in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram! @mandilynnwrites

Character Profiling Prompts to Aid in Your Novel’s Plot || YA Ink

Character Profiling Prompts to Aid in Your Novel's Plot || YA Ink

What makes a story? The plot or the characters? It can go either way, but if you’re lucky than the two elements work together to create a gripping novel for your reads. In drafting my third novel I’ve fallen in love with character profiling. I’ve done it in the past, but I was never a fan. The prompts are great to help you figure out who your characters are, but they don’t always help you move forward in plot. Instead you end up with a lot of backstory you now feel obligated to fit into your story.

character development, character profile, writing tips

Fan of Pinterest? I’ve got a board just for character development! Find me here!

I was able to come up with a few prompts that personally helped me develop my characters for novel #3, but it did more than just that. The questions below should help you brainstorm essential traits in your characters that will drive the story forward. Maybe you’ll answer the question and realize Sammy has a lot of attitude. What is she going to do to piss everyone else off in the story? Or what about Nancy? She had a divorce. What happened to her ex-husband? Is he going to show up again? Rocky and Willow hang out a lot. They’ve best friends obviously, but how did they meet? What the one thing that could tear them apart?

See what I’m going far? Go really behind the scenes. Shack things up a bit. Sit down with one of your characters now and ask them a few of these questions:

  • What’s their biggest fear? What’s the one thing that will tear them apart?
    • Got the answer? You should probably work it into the story somehow.
  • What are they trying to accomplish?
    • Let them get really close to accomplishing it. Then, you know, take it away.
  • How are the associated with other characters?
    • I know Rock and Willow met at a bar, but what is it about their two personalities that brought them together?
  • What past event has caused them to be the person they are today?
    • Is Sammy a bitch because of something that happened in high school? Maybe something that ruined her reputation? Now what if that little incident popped up again? Now that would be fun…
  • What’s their tipping point?
    • Make them reach their tipping point.

And of course you should probably figure out what your character looks like, but that’s not as exciting.

Like these prompts? Download the character development prompts or find it on Pinterest!

Character Profiling Prompts to Aid in Your Novel's Plot || YA Ink

Find me on Instagram! @mandilynnwrites