Every student will have to outline a novel in one of their English classes during their academic career. It’s an important skill to learn in order to be able to succeed in English and literature classes but the ability to outline any text can help students all the way through their college years. There are a few things students can do to get started so they can become their own expert in outlining a book.

List the characters

One of the first things students can do is make a list of characters they come across in a book. They can highlight or color code if that helps them remember important traits within a character. Additionally, some of the main things students should write down when it comes to characters is a physical description, list of personality traits, and their relationship to other characters in the book. What the reader learns about characters may evolve throughout the book so students are encouraged to add to their character descriptions until they read to the very end. 

Plot summary by chapter

Another important thing for students to do is create a plot summary by chapter. It will be overly challenging for any reader to try to remember what happened at a particular point in the novel without citing the chapter, or even the page number, when they go back to study the novel later on. Plot summaries can help students understand the overall story and be a big help when they’re studying for related quizzes and exams.

Setting description

It’s a good idea for students to remember the setting of important points throughout any novel. What’s going on within any environment of a book can inform a student on how to understand the characters as well as what’s going on within the plot. Students should always write down a plot description but they may also find it helpful to draw a picture of the setting as described by the author.

Important points as determined by the teacher

It’s essential for students to understand what their particular teacher wants them to learn about a novel or text. Students should take notes in class and also ask the teacher what the most important things are for them to remember about a particular novel. Then, they have the opportunity to highlight these items while they’re reading the novel or after the fact while they’re completing their homework assignments. Color coding is a great option here because it will help the student remember which items their teacher thought were especially important.

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