Writing Resources: Vol 1

I’m starting a new series on some of my favorite writing tools.

The first is: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

When I first started writing seriously a few years ago, I HATED the idea of outlining. HATED IT. I mean, I really, really didn’t like it. I wanted to let the writing flow out of me naturally.

And it did. Lots of it. Mostly it was short stories, scenes from my life that I wanted to fictionalize. Occasionally, it was good. So then I thought I could write a novel. I took those ideas and rewrote them as fiction and added some connections and: voila! a book.

I asked a few people to read it. They were sweet. Looking back at it now, I feel a bit bad for them. But they gave me the encouragement I needed to start another project. By my next project was…ambitious. I started writing it knowing the beginning and the end. But I had no idea how to get from point A to point B.

I’ve been listening to KM Weiland’s podcasts for a long time, and had read her blog posts about outlining. So I downloaded her book, went to a cafe, ordered a cookie and a coffee, and read. The entire first half.

Then, I was so pumped about the story, I called my husband and told him I needed more time. And I started the outline for Home.

I finished the book and the first draft of Home. While I worked on that (I’m actually still working on it!) I started working on the concept for Stealing the Ruby Slippers. You may have read that I completed the first draft in three weeks. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I’m working on the sequel right now. I am within two or three days of finishing the first draft.

First of all, let me say: these are first drafts. There is a TON of rewriting and editing. But getting the story out is the first step of getting the book done. And there is no way I could write that fast without an outline.

The other thing about outlining is: it’s easier than actually writing. So, if you’re thinking about writing but are afraid to start, do an outline!

I use the “mind-map” outline method to get all of the ideas out, then eventually move it into a linear outline to create chapters. I use SimpleMind so I can move things around, but it would be just as easy to use post-it notes.


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