Monday, June 10, 2013

Outlining Your Next Novel

I'm raising my head from working on my new book, which is still in the outlining stage, so I can tell you about an excellent book on outlining. K. M. Weiland, author of Outlining Your Novel - Map Your Way To Success, offers a detailed approach to your outlining project. You can also find her at her blog, Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors, HERE.

Not only does she offer suggestions on how to begin your outline, she offers in depth questions on characterization and theme. Since I have been following her ideas, I've found the process long and involved, but worthwhile. That's because when you do character studies and development of the inciting event, you will create many pages of notes for your story ahead of the actual writing. Besides character sketches, she explores backstory, character interviews and setting.

Ms. Weiland offers two kinds of outlines of explore; the extended outline or the abbreviated outline. By choosing what works for you, you can draw your own road map to success. She walks you through each kind with examples from other authors.

One feature I like about this book is after each chapter she has a section called Asking the Authors. Each chapter has a different author she has interviewed about outlining and they give candid answers about their own feelings about outlining and the different topics. I found some of the answers sparked with humor and alacrity.

If you are serious about learning how to make a working outline for your next book, this is an excellent tool to begin with. I bought my copy from Amazon for my Kindle reader and the only disadvantage to having it on ebook was I couldn't make notes in the margins. I found myself writing on any scrap of paper that was handy. I did finally put it all in a three ring binder so I could move pages of the outline around.

I'm excited about the outline I'm working on. I can see the story developing on paper as well as in my head. By the time I get to write this book, it will flow out of my creative side and I won't have to worry about the mechanics, since they will be mapped out in the outline.

Do you outline? What's your process for getting it down? Can you recommend any books?


  1. What a great book review! You made it sound so interesting, practical and something that would enhance the process.

    And... I just fell in love with a new word: alacrity. I thought I knew what it meant... but I looked it up, and it's such a rich word with many more positive nuances than I realized. :-D

    1. Rettakat: Thanks! I have to say that this book really got my head spinning with all kinds of questions about my characters and how they will fit together. It's a great book and Kim did a fantastic job on it.

      I knew you'd look alacrity up if you didn't already know it! Ha!

  2. I'll have to check this one out, Karen. I've been doing more frontend work than ever, and am interesting in outlining and developing a plan before writing. I didn't know how before.

    I recently read Save the Cat, which was an aha moment for me. It gave me the tools to begin a rough outline and to do things on purpose and plan for them. But I'm always up for more. I'll make note of this one.

    I always get reference books in paper for the reason you describe and so I can stick post-its in them. lol

    1. Mary: After reading your books, I was sure you did an outline. Everything is introduced and foreshadowed like it planned. Hmm, if you didn't outline, you had a good system before. It can only get better.

      I have post-it notes all over the wall near my computer. Now I can put them in the outline! :-)