Novel Outline Template

By very, very, very popular demand, here’s a PDF download of a novel outline template. You have been asking for one for years, but the closest I’ve ever written is this short article on a novel synopsis. Well, I’ve rectified that!

You can also grab it directly via this Google Drive link. (To use the document in your own Google Drive, simply make a copy of it by going to the File menu, then to “Make a copy”. You won’t be able to edit the original because I want everyone to have this template.)

Novel Outline Template Preview
Fill in this template to start charting your own novel outline. It’s good stuff!

To download the PDF version of this file, please click here: Novel Outline Template

Writers want to see examples of a novel outline template because there are so many ways to achieve this. What goes into a novel outline? How do you format it? This is certainly one way to organize an outline, but there are many other writers and writing teachers who have put together comprehensive advice and their own novel outline templates. (Two of my favorites are Fool Proof Outline and Outlining Your Novel).

Start here and see where it takes you. Most of my readers know that I’ve been teaching the concept of interiority for years, and so this outline goes into character arc a lot, not just plot arc. I think it’s the best of both worlds, but would love to hear your reactions in the comments when you use it!

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into outlining and crafting your novel, check out our six-month writing intensive at Story Mastermind. This program is for serious writers only—the ones who want to invest the time and effort it takes to make their work the best it can be, and to help others do the same.

Story Mastermind Outline Preview
You’ll get a detailed outline template as soon as you begin Story Mastermind.

As a freelance editor, I do the novel outline edit all the time. Do all the hard thinking ahead of time. Kick the tires of your idea. Pressure test your plot and character arcs. I can do one or multiple rounds to make sure you have a road map for your future draft nailed down before you sit down to write. This is honestly one of my favorite services to do because we can anticipate a lot of issues ahead of time and save you so much revision heartache.



13 Replies to “Novel Outline Template”

  1. Diane Phelps says:

    Do you have a template for nonfiction picture books? This one for novels looks quite good.

    1. Mary Kole says:

      I do not, because these aren’t easy to template. Each follows its own chronology as necessitated by the topic. A science concept is going to be different from a living person’s biography, which is going to be different from a dead person’s biography, etc. Not everything fits into a formula, alas.

  2. One of my favorite mystery authors, Lee Child—writer of the Jack Reacher novels, (who has just retired from the series and handed the franchise over to his writer brother-but that’s another story) claims to be a pure panster and never used an outline. I on the other hand am a die-hard outliner being too afraid of painting myself into a plot corner in Act III. Very helpful Outline Template, Mary, thanks for sharing.

  3. Cheryl Tuskes says:

    Thank you so much Mary. I struggle with outlining. This will be a big help.

  4. This is fabulous! Thank you for sharing. I will figure out how to integrate it into Scrivener…

  5. Thank you, Mary! I appreciate this tool–another way to visualize my story.

  6. I am so pleased I came across this post. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. this outline is very helpful! thank you so much.

  8. It’s funny – I always struggle with questions like ‘What is my character’s motivation?’ because I struggle even to know what my own motivation is. 😀

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