Creating Your “Outline”

The next thing you’re going to do as you read through your book is create an “outline.” I put “outline” in quotes because most people think of an outline as something you create before you write the book.

And fine. Sure. That’s a thing many writers do.

But here, we’re creating a scene-by-scene outline of the book we have written—again, as it currently stands.

To do this, you’re going to take out your index cards. Each scene gets a card, and on the card, you will write out:

  • The page numbers for the scene
  • The scene’s # in the book (so the first scene is #1, the tenth is #10, etc.)
  • A one-line descriptor for the scene
  • A more detailed explanation, including the characters that appear

That’s it. That’s all you need, and the level of detail beyond this is up to you. I like to be as spare as possible because it’s faster and easier for me, but really: the level of detail is up to you.

If you know there might be big time gaps between your reading and revising sessions, a detailed description might be helpful! That way, if you forget what you’ve read, you’ve got a reminder on the each index card.

Here’s an example:

An example of the index card for a scene in this revisions process
An example of an index card for a scene with the page number, scene number, descriptive title for scene, and more in-depth description.

When you finish reading, you’ll have a nice stack of index cards that summarize your book all right there! It’s easy, convenient, and it will help you stay organized as we tackle making actual changes in future lessons.