Mari Suggs Romance Author 

How to Outline Your Novel Using Index Cards

As you may or may not know, there are two types of writers: plotters and pantsers, which means, some of us outline and others of us do not.

I’ve published three books and I have outlined not one of them. However, I’m currently writing a young adult fantasy novel which involves a lot of world and character building and it got me thinking, hmm, I better try this outlining thing. And God am I glad that I did.

What I discovered is that outlining is a life-saver and a lot of fun to do—at least for me it was—especially because I used index cards which was totally new for me.

So this is what I did.

  • I researched the interweb for different forms of outlining
  • Then, I settled on index cards!
  • I wanted to focus on story structure within in each act (Act I, II & III) so onto the web I went again.
  • This is when I came across the blog ran by K.M. Weiland “Helping Writers Become Authors”
  • Using K.M. Weiland guideline (which is a common outline) regarding Act I, II, III, I began mapping out my story.
  • I separated each act and focused only on the story elements that fit within that act (all while keeping in my mind what I believed my ending was going to be).
  • I used color index cards to signify important markers, like the hook, inciting event, key event and first plot point, but also when I added a flashback and the white cards for the scenes in between.

Act I:

First card:          The Hook

Second card:      The Inciting Event

Third card:         The Key Event

Fourth card:       The First Plot Point (end of Act I)

After I had my cards in place, I started filing in the scenes that went between each major event in the novel; for example, I wrote my hook, then the scenes that came after that, until I finally landed on the “inciting event.” I did this over and over again until I got to the end of the first act (which should be the first 25% of your novel—for proper pacing).

By doing this I was able to see my scenes clearly and add, rearrange or delete scenes as I continued to build my story.

I did the same thing for Act II:

First Card: The First Pinch Point

Second Card: The Midpoint

Third Card: Second Half Of the Second Act

Fourth Card: Second Pinch Point

Fifth Card: Third Plot Point


And Act III:

First Card: The Climax

Second Card: The Climatic Moment

Third Card: The Resolution

This method was so easy and so much fun that I can't believe that as a writer I hadn’t tried it before. This is an example of how rigid we can be in our own lives. I recommend that if you’re struggling with something in your life, something that seems daunting to you, that you open yourself up to the possibility that this might be exactly what you need. Sometimes change is hard, but often necessary.

For more on how I outlined my novel and how I did it check out my YouTube video here.

So that’s it you guys, I hope you enjoyed this blog and if you would like to see more content like this leave me a comment.

Until Next Time, Stay Safe!

Supplies I used:

White Ruled Index Cards

Color Ruled Index Cards



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In case you didn't know, my new non-fiction book #Believe Dammit was released last Tuesday 09/26/2017, in it, I dedicate chapters to meditation and forgiveness--as both are crucial steps in your overall success. Check it out here!

Till Next Time, Stay Safe! 


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