January 4, 2014 11:05 am

Michelle Waters

As an aspiring novelist, I love getting a peek behind the curtain of famous authors — especially those in the genre I’m attempting to enter.

So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across a handwritten outline created by J.K. Rowling when she was writing her fifth Harry Potter book. The outline,and the accompanying explanation of how it works really opened my eyes to a novel organization process that I think will work for me. Except I’m moving mine into a spreadsheet. Keeping up with physical sheets of paper simply won’t work in my life…

Here are some photos of outlines by various authors:

J.K. Rowling’s outline of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rowling Outline


You can view a transcript of this outline here.

What really opened my eyes to this process is the description of tracking not only the scenes in the novel, but also the series. For more information on what this means, check out this series of posts on the book architecture method. You can also read this book, Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horwitz, which I am in the middle of pouring over, as we speak.

Joseph Heller’s outline of Catch 22

Heller Catch 22

I have read both of these novels — the later when I was in high school. I tried to find some author outlines of books I’ve read recently, like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. But it seems that those authors are holding their cards close to the vest, so to speak.

So, for those of you who are curious, I’ve included some photos below of author outlines for books I have not read.

Henry Miller’s outline of Tropic of Capricorn

Henry Miller Tropic of Captricorn

Norman Mailer’s outline of Harlot’s Ghost

Norman Mailer's Harlot's Ghost

Sylvia Plath’s outline of The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar


Last but not least, I thought I’d share a bit of my current outlining process, even though I am, by no means, a famous author (unless you count getting published in the daily newspaper every day for a few years…)

My As-Yet-Unnamed novel outline…

Michelle Boyd Waters novel outline

If you know of any other author outlines, I’d love to see them!

As Editor and Publisher, Michelle oversees the content creation for the site. With a background in art, design, and writing, her interests are in color theory, mixed media, and gestalt.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}