The Starting Point: An Outline

When I start writing a new novel, I know two things: The beginning and the end of the story. Then I build a classic three-part story structure, outlining each chapter in an elementary fashion. And it works, guiding me through to completion.

To me, this process is key. Along with creating character sketches and using TKs so as to not stop writing to research, and of course writing longhand, and typing up the day’s work to review and plan for the next writing day, these tools allowed me to finally write that first novel, How Good It Can Be, whose outline I’ve included here, in hopes that it will help others.—Michelle Z.

YA Novel Outline: How Good It Can Be 7th Draft

By Michelle Zaffino

71,591 Words

One sentence synopsis: 17-year old Emma meets the boy she wants to lose her virginity to but learns a lesson when he turns abusive. She finds out how good it can be to be true to herself.

Alternating Between Chapters:

Writing Samples/media snippets: A variety of multimedia by Emma and others, including writing for the school publication, Bella magazine queries, her journal, admissions and scholarship essays.

Short scenes from Blake’s POV: Let the reader into the mind of an ego-maniac.

NOW

Prologue (1 page, Summer)

-Emma recaps what brought her to this turning point

-She alludes to the problems in her relationship with Blake

-Choosing to be true to herself

SPRING

Writing Sample: Article Emma wrote for The Current asking for favorite music playlists and free admission to the last dance.

Chapter 1 (13 pages, Spring)

-Intro Emma, her love for magazines, writing, and something bigger

-Emma meets Blake

-Emma accepts job at Cafe from Anna

-Emma and her Guy history

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: He really likes Emma

Chapter 2 (15 pages, Spring)

-Marnie accepts Nick’s invite, tells Emma

-Jayne, another girl who likes Blake, accosts Emma, tries to intimidate her

-Emma and Anna work at Cafe

-Emma worries about guys curse

-Blake asks Emma to the party

Title: TK

Writing Sample: Excerpt from Emma’s journal about how she’s not afraid to go after what she wants: Blake.

Chapter 3 ( 18 pages, Spring)

-Emma and Blake go on date, to party

-Gigi listens to Jayne gossip

-Marnie/Gigi tell Emma rumors

-Emma’s college dream revealed: Cal

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

Chapter 4 (18 pages, Spring)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 5 (16 pages, Spring)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

SUMMER

Chapter 6 (16 pages, Spring/Summer)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 7 (17 pages, Summer)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

Chapter 8 (14 pages, Summer)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 9 (19 pages, Summer)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

Chapter 10 (17 pages Summer/Fall)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

FALL

Chapter 11 (17 pages, Summer/Fall)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

Chapter 12 (14 pages, Summer/Fall)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 13 (18 pages, Fall)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

Chapter 14 (19 pages, Fall)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 15 (21 pages, Fall/Holiday)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

WINTER

Chapter 16 (18 pages, Holiday)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 17 (21 pages, Holiday)

Title: TK

Blake’s POV: TK

Chapter 18 (16 pages, Winter)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK

Chapter 19 (20 pages, Winter)

Title: TK

Writing Sample from Blake’s POV: TK

NEW SEASON

Chapter 20 ( 19 pages, Spring)

Title: TK

Writing Sample: TK