AI Secrets To Kick Start Your Writing: #2—Outline Your Chapter

Typewriter Page Artificial IntelligenceWhat’s the biggest obstacle a writer faces? Even if you have outlined your book.

Staring at the page for the start of that new chapter.


All writers do this—even famous ones. Take, for instance, Sylvia Plath:

Sylvia Plath
(from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)

Monday, July 7 (1958): …But I have no idea how to begin. I shall, perhaps, just begin. I am somewhere in me sure I should write a good “book poem” a day—but that is nonsense—I go wild when I spend a day writing a bad twelve lines—as I did yesterday… I’ll leave off poems for a bit—finish the books I’m now in the middle of (at least five!) do German (that I can do) & write a kitchen article (for Atlantic’s Accent on Living?) a Harper’s Cambridge Student Life article—a story “The Return” & suddenly attack my novel from the middle. O for a plot.

Wednesday, July 9: Prose writing has become a phobia to me: my mind shuts & I clench. I can’t, or won’t, come clear with a plot. 


Franz Kafka
(from The Diaries of Franz Kafka, 1910-1923, h/t Open Culture)

29 January. Again tried to write, virtually useless. The past two days went early to bed, about ten o’clock, something I haven’t done for a long time now. Free feeling during the day, partial satisfaction, more useful in the office, possible to speak to people—Severe pain in my knee now.

(Oh, don’t we all have that knee pain, Franz. Somehow physical pains surge to the forefront when we are frustrated with other parts of our lives.)

I’m not a famous writer, but I am a working one, and there is absolutely one thing that helps me finish one contract novel after another.

Outlining each chapter.

Outling your chapter works for a genres, even for space opera, like my current WIP, Master’s License.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, when I’m on a roll, I don’t outline every chapter. However, when I’m getting stuck in a novel I will pull out my chapter outline.

Chapter Outline

My regretably blank outline has all the elements in there I need to remember when I craft the story. Now for Master’s Licence I did plot each chapter. I know what will happen in it. (Fair Warning: my writing system depends on chopping each chapter in three parts from the wordcount predetermined for the chapter.)

But I still need to chop that synopsis into three parts.

Time to have a talk with my friend ChatGPT.

Beth: Please outline the following in three sections: The ship suffers a micrometeorite shower that damages the ship’s systems. Valuable gas cargo is in danger of venting. Pirate Captain Cripin sends Rangle and Kelleen to repair the damage. A micrometeorite damages Ran’s spacesuit, and Kelleen quickly repairs it, which causes Ran to question who she says she is.
ChatGPT’s response:

I. The Micrometeorite Shower A. Introduction to The Golden Bough’s precarious situation 1. The vessel encounters a micrometeorite shower 2. Impact on the ship’s systems and hull damage B. The critical cargo at risk 1. Valuable gas cargo is in danger of venting into space 2. The potential consequences of losing the cargo C. Pirate Captain Cripin’s decision 1. Captain Cripin’s orders to address the damage 2. Rangle and Kelleen chosen for the repair mission

II. Repairing the Damage A. Rangle and Kelleen’s mission 1. Their assignment to repair the ship’s damaged systems and hull 2. The urgency of their task to prevent cargo loss B. The perilous spacewalk 1. Rangle and Kelleen’s venture into the vacuum of space 2. The challenges and dangers of the repair mission C. Micrometeorite damages Ran’s spacesuit 1. Ran’s spacesuit is compromised during the mission 2. The immediate danger to Ran’s life

III. Kelleen’s Quick Thinking and Ran’s Doubts A. Kelleen’s rapid response 1. Kelleen’s resourcefulness in repairing Ran’s spacesuit 2. Her determination to save Ran B. Ran’s skepticism 1. Ran’s questioning of Kelleen’s skills and identity 2. Doubts about Kelleen’s capabilities in a critical moment C. The tension and conflict between Kelleen and Ran 1. The fallout from Ran’s doubts 2. The implications for their working relationship within the crew.

The logical flow of the outline helps to spark all sorts of ideas for creating tension and danger, just what that readers look for. I don’t need to think too hard about what happens next. I concentrate on writing the words in the most engaging way possible.

If you are genius writer that doesn’t need help with your chapters, then you do you. I am not a genius writer, but homo sapiens that I am, I do know how to use tools.

And so can you.


Image Credit: Image by <a href=”″>Markus Winkler</a> from <a href=”″>Pixabay</a>

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