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Introducing the Book Outlining Tool!

Updated: May 24, 2021

We are proud to introduce the new Creative Writer 1.0 Book Outline Tool! If you're not exactly the "pantser" type, you now can easily and quickly sketch the layout of your entire book, and break down the one monumental task into its constituent parts, chapters, and individual scenes. You can be as detailed or as general as you would like. And the drag-and drop capability makes it easy to rearrange items, make subheadings, and move entire sections of your outline as much as you want. When you're done, you can simply save your outline to your account, and have it available whenever you need. If you have a Gold Membership, give the outline tool a try here:

Screen Shot of the Outlining Tool
Screen Shot of the Outlining Tool

(Note that a free "offline" version of the tool with ads should be available soon.)


Using the Outlining Tool

Once the page is ready, a default outline will load, but you can select any of your saved outlines from the panel on the far left of the screen. The title of the outline (typically the same as your book title) will appear in the textbox at the top of the screen. If the title of the outline matches a book title, the existing chapters of that book will appear in the panel on the far right of the screen. (Note that if your outline does not automatically load when you select from the saved outline panel, click the "load" button at the top of the page to force an update.)

The "Sorting Panel"

The Sorting Panel can be located just to the right of the panel displaying your saved outlines. Here, you can drag-and-drop the list items of your outline however you wish. Note that the lowest-level items will be displayed in a white font. These are typically where one might write a more detailed entry or note on a scene or chapter. Consequently, these items will hide content that exceeds a certain length, but you can still scroll through the content of these items by hovering over them and using your mouse wheel (or keyboard up/down arrows).

The "Selection Panel"

The Selection Panel will give you a numbered outline and allow you to (box) select items whose content you can edit in the text input box above the Selection Panel. (When you select an item, its content will appear in the editing text box.) Once you edit an item, press the blue "Update" button to the right of the text box to apply.

Normally, the Selection Panel will automatically update when items are rearranged on the Sorting Panel, but if they have not updated, press the red "Update" button on the Sorting Panel to refresh the Selection Panel contents.

If you wish to keep a particular chapter in your book associated with an entry in your outline, simply select that chapter in the right-hand panel, select the appropriate entry in your outline, and then click the "associate" ("<-Assoc.") button. You will see an ID string appear in the small input box directly above the Selection Panel. Whenever you then select an outline item and a book chapter that are associated, the normally red "matched" indicator will turned green to reflect this relationship. This will be true even when you alter the content or title of either the chapter or the outline item.

If you want to remove this association, just work in reverse. Select the appropriate item and chapter, slide the "write-protect" switch (to the right of the matched indicator) from "locked" to "unlocked," and then click the "dissociate" ("Dissoc->") button to remove the association.

Adding and Removing Outline Items

To add an item to your outline, simply select an item on the Selection Panel directly above where you would like to place the new entry and click the "add item" button to the right of the text editing box. The new item will automatically appear on the Sorting Panel display. When it does, if it is positioned where you want it to be, click the red "Update" button on the Sorting Panel to refresh the Selection Panel. You should then see your "new item" placeholder appear in your numbered outline. You can then select this item and change its contents as you would with any other entry.

Finally, to remove an item, slide the "write-protect" selector from "lock" to "unlock" so that the "Remove" button underneath the "Add Item" button is enabled. Then, on the Selection Panel, select the item you wish to remove and click the "Remove" button. The change will be reflected on the Sorting Panel automatically; click the red "Update" button to refresh the Selection Panel and you will now see the item removal reflected in your numbered outline.

Committing Your Changes (Important!)

  • The last thing to note is that any of your outline changes are temporary until you commit/save them using the "save" button at the top of the page.

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