Downriver Writing: The Five-Step Process for Outlining Your Novel

Downriver Writing: The Five-Step Process for Outlining Your Novel

by Jane Ann McLachlan


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Downriver Writing – Outlining is a hands-on workbook that offers a guided, step-by-step approach to developing your story idea, plot, and characters. Following the five easy steps in this book will give you the structure every successful novel needs while fostering your own creativity and flexibility as you write your first draft.

Each step is explained clearly and includes a series of questions, exercises and charts designed to help you

  • Discover your unique story
  • Brainstorm plot ideas
  • Structure a powerful and compelling story
  • Create deep, emotionally resonant themes in your stories
  • Gain self-assurance and motivation to finish your novel
  • Save you time and frustration by recognizing dead-end ideas
  • Prevent writers’ block and writing in circles
  • Restores the joy of writing
  • Create a powerful outline and an outstanding story

“Downriver Writing is a thorough and compact guide to writing a great novel. Written in workbook style, Downriver Writing is packed with information, examples, and exercises to help the writer develop their characters and draft an outline while still leaving plenty of room for pantser inspiration. It reads easily and the five step process flows systematically and seamlessly. After publishing my first novel, I found myself going around in circles on the second one. The approach in Downriver Writing has enabled me to forge ahead more quickly and confidently. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.” ~Louise S.

"This step-by-step process to developing and outlining a novel really made a significant impact on my approach to storytelling. With the guidance and resources Jane Ann provides here, I have been able to move forward in my plot development with genuine characters and a steadily rising action worthy of an exciting story. I highly recommend this process to any writer." ~James Weare.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781999383633
Publisher: Jane Ann McLachlan
Publication date: 02/20/2019
Series: Downriver Writing , #1
Pages: 82
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.17(d)

About the Author

Jane Ann McLachlan is the multiple award-winning author of three non-fiction books, one memoir, a short story collection, and six published novels. Before writing full-time, she was a professor of English and Professional Ethics at Conestoga College in Ontario, Canada. She now teaches writing workshops and courses in Canada and the United States. You can find out more about her books or contact her through her author website: and her creative writing website:

Table of Contents



Step One

From Idea to Story Premise

Theme | Setting | Main Characters | Putting It Together (Premise Statement)

Step Two

From Premise to Story Opening

Voice, Tense, and Point of View | Choosing a Narrator | Hook Your Readers

Characters With Attitude | Writing the Introductory Chapters

Step Three

Beyond the Inciting Incident

Active Scenes versus Narrative Passages

Conflict | Surprise | Change | Putting It Together

Step Four

From Characters to Character-Driven Journey

Story Structure and Rising Conflict | Creating Internal Conflict

The Three Types of Ethical Situations | Creating Moral Choices for Your Characters

Step Five

From Journey to Outline

Story Structure and Plot | Knowing Your Ending

Integrating Plot, Moral Choice, and Character Growth

Creating the Outline for Your Story | Simplified Plot Outline and Character Arc

Closing Comments

Tips for Writing Faster | Now What?

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