I wrote six novels at this point, and I can tell you that the process for each one was slightly different. What happens most of the time is that, if I do not know where the story is going, I get lost in side plots and characters that don’t quite matter. My story wears thin and I lose steam. Eventually I stop and stare.
How do you make an outline?
Start big: what is your story about? What are the big themes you want to explore? Write a story line in two-hundred words or so (this could be the blurb at the back of your book). This is hard, because it forces you to concretize nebulous ideas. It’s okay if it takes you a whole day (or two) to complete this task! It will save you much more time later.
If necessary, split your story into parts (two or three depending on how your plot develops), and write a blurb for each.
Then break down parts into chapters, writing a sentence (no more) summarizing each chapter. Now you have a path to follow and guide you through developing your first draft.
My first book, An Italian Adventure, started like a stream of consciousness, and was painfully rewritten about fifty times till it became a more organic story with a beginning and an end. I didn’t even know what it was going to be about, I just knew it wanted to come out.
My second book, Out of the Nest, came all out in a month and required minor editing. Every book I wrote since saw a different evolution, but if you get stuck, an outline might be just what you need to put you back on track.
Who am I to give you advice?
I am the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS): an irreverent series taking place in Italy and speaking of love, sadness, sex, and happiness with a healthy dose of humor <3 You can check out the books pretty much anywhere including Amazon ^_^