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Self Publishing: How to Outline a Fiction Book

Self Publishing: How to Outline a Fiction Book

If you want to earn great money writing books and self-publishing, then you might want to consider writing fiction.

If you’ve written fiction before, then you might feel ready to jump back in and start publishing as soon as possible. There are plenty of opportunities in the sales charts to really earn a great income putting your skills and experience to use.

But, what if you’ve never written fiction before? It can be really intimidating to get started. For whatever reason, many people I talk to seem to think that it’s a lot easier to write nonfiction than it is to write fiction. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you have to create entire worlds, storylines, characters, and concepts when you’re writing fiction. It’s easier when you’re writing nonfiction because you typically don’t have to invent anything. You might write based on fact or opinion or research.

So, if you’re fearful of writing fiction for Kindle and other self-publishing platforms, ask yourself why. Is it just because you’ve never done it before? Is it because you have tried it before and found it difficult? What’s the reason for the fear?

If you can get over the fear and start publishing fiction, I think you might find yourself really having fun with it. There are plenty of writers out there who were intimidated at first but then really got into it. Many have earned great money as a result. Some have also eventually found it to be easier than writing nonfiction. Of course, that might be a matter of what you’ve gotten used to.

One of the most important things to consider as you get started on this journey is what you’re going to do as far as your writing process. There are some writers who sit down and just start writing. The characters, situations, and plot just start to unfold and even they, as the writer, has no idea where things are going.

I wouldn’t recommend that strategy if you’re just getting started as a fiction writer, though. It’s way too difficult and overwhelming for the typical writer to write that way—especially if you’re new.

It’s so much easier to write great fiction if you’re able to follow an outline as you write. Contrary to what some people might believe, having an outline to follow can help free you to be more creative. It can also help you maintain story structure.

Perhaps most importantly of all, it can help you stay on task and get into the right mindset so you can actually get the story done. There are countless unfinished stories out there on people’s hard drives—they’ve never finished their stories because they got stuck and/or lost confidence.

Don’t let that happen to you—write an outline!

How to Get Starting Writing a Fiction Outline

First, you have to have a general idea of what you want your story to be about. I’ll assume you want to earn great money with the fiction you write. So, take a look at the bestseller charts for your genre.

Which specific types of stories are zooming up the charts? What are people buying up like crazy? There tend to be certain types of stories with certain themes that are selling like crazy—and that changes on a regular basis.

Doing your research can help you earn more. It can also help to motivate you. For as long as there have been writers, writers have made an effort to become inspired by others. It’s just something that’s a natural result of reading and studying the works of others.

Get inspired by the themes people use in their stories. Get inspired by their plot lines and characters.

It’s really helpful to read books in the genre you plan to write in.

Just as note—you never want to steal anyone else’s idea. Getting inspired by ideas is definitely not the same thing as stealing ideas.


Next, you might want to start brainstorming. Write down your general story idea. Brainstorm your characters.

Spend a lot of time brainstorming traits and situations that might happen to your main character.

What bad situations happen?

What is the goal of the main character? What’s standing in their way? What are their relationships? Why should the reader care about this person and what happens to them.

When in doubt when it comes to your characters and storylines, put obstacles in the way of the story goal. Make it really hard and challenging to get there. The journey matters—nothing should come easily.


Once you’ve wrapped your mind around what might go in your book, it’s time to start your outline.

There are so many different ways to outline for fiction.

You might want to start in the middle of the action. What’s going on with the character? How can you draw the reader in right away?

There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end.

You introduce the characters and make the story goal clear.

There are several events that lead to the turning point of the story. These events are the rising action—there should be plenty of conflict and obstacles along the way. After the turning point, we see a falling action that leads to the resolution.

There are lots of story charts available online that can help you figure out the basic structure of your story.

Here’s a great resource for various worksheets, charts, and sample outlines you can follow:

Once you have the basic idea of how your story will go and the journey your main character will go through, you can fill in the details.

The details are what’s going to be important for you as you actually start to write your story. Create a really, really thorough outline. That way, you won’t have to think about what’s coming next as you’re actually writing your story.

Remain Flexible…

It can really help you to have an outline. In my opinion, having an outline is basically insurance that you’ll actually follow through and complete a great story.

With that said, you don’t have to be rigid when you’re writing. If you find a better plot point while you’re writing, use it. If you have to change something from your outline to make a better story, do it.

Your outline is there as a safety net and a guideline. Make it really thorough so there’s no way you can fail and so you’ll be able to quickly write a fantastic story.

That’s what’s important in the end—that you write a story you’re proud of and that suits the desires of your audience.

Write an Outline and Succeed With Fiction

Writing fiction is all the rage these days as more and more people get into self-publishing. There are plenty of experienced, professional writers in the game as well as those who never even considered writing until now. No matter what the case is with you, know that writing an outline can help you successful write great stories.

Don’t get worried about this process, by the way. You’ll get better and better the more you do this. Practice writing and you’ll likely come to enjoy the process—or at least be able to get through the process with ease. You don’t have to toil and struggle to write great fiction—get started, today!

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