Friday Forum: Outlining

Yes, I know: outlining? The horror! The kibosh on the creative flow!

Our heroine once was what is referred to as a “pantser,” dear Reader – writing from the seat of her pants, just diving in and letting it flow. I still think there’s a lot to be said for that method for me, so long as I’ve done some good organization as well. For me, organization isn’t putting my story into cookie cutter shapes at all. Rather, it’s looking ahead, getting a feel for how I want to get to Point B from Point A and then diving in. While I go, I may come up with a different idea. Does that mean I have to forgo that? No! I adjust my outline, not my story,  and make sure it will work. I have come to find the organization an exciting part of the process.

And so today, I thought we’d take on the process of outlining. There are many forms and they perform many functions. I’ve found myself at times using more than one and getting a better view of my plot or characters as a result. All I can say is try using them, adjust them to your own needs and be open to the possibilities.

Let’s start with the Mother of All Outlining Articles. This one’s a three-parter and well worth the read. From Pantser to Plotter: My Problem With Pantsing by Kait Nolan begins here. She makes a superb case for learning how to get a bit more organized before/as you write your novel. You may well find yourself shaking your head ruefully as you recall dealing with some of the pitfalls she mentions in this first entry. Read on, there’s terrific information to be found. Take a look then at From Pantser to Plotter: My Conversion, Part 1 and Part 2. Techniques and commentary, very useful stuff.

You gotta love Deadline Dames’ article on the subject called Outlines: or The Horror! The Horror! by Dame Kaz. It addresses the issue with a good nature. You’ll find some basic questions asked and answered right here. New ideas that may give you insight into the process. There are several basic techniques detailed. I recommend them.

NaNoWriMo has useful stuff on its site. One of the most useful articles to me – and to this post – is How to Outline Your Novel in 30 Minutes by Alicia Rasley. Whether you do it in thirty or take a few hours to mull it over, this technique has proven time and again to be helpful in getting the novel ready for the author to dive in. It’s a step-by-step method of outlining your thoughts about your plot and characters. Take a look and let me know what you think.

In fact, take a look at all of these great sites and let me know what you think, please. It’s not easy making the transition from freeform writer to organized writer, but these sites should help to make it as painless and purposeful as possible.


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7 thoughts on “Friday Forum: Outlining

  1. Kait Nolan August 9, 2009 at 5:36 am Reply

    Thanks for the link love Jess! I’m thrilled you found my article useful. 🙂


    • Jessica Rosen August 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm Reply

      Hi, glad you stopped by. Your articles are a terrific case for outlining. They’re not only persuasive, they give the tools necessary for a convert to get started. Good stuff!

      Take care, Kait,
      Jessica Rosen


  2. Violet Hilton August 11, 2009 at 4:09 am Reply

    Kait’s Pantser to Plotter series was wonderful and I might try out some of the software she discusses in them to help keep me organized. Maybe during NaNo this year!

    Thanks for pulling this collection of links together, Jess. Great stuff as always 🙂


    • Jessica Rosen August 11, 2009 at 7:14 am Reply

      Aren’t Kait’s articles great? The first one had me shaking my head ruefully time and time again. If I hadn’t already made the leap to organization, I would have then. Let us know how your experiences are with the software, please?

      Thanks, glad the posts are useful.

      Take care, Violet,
      Jessica Rosen


  3. Friday Forum: Plotting « Girl Meets Word September 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm Reply

    […] writer, writing Several Forums ago, our heroine took on the task of converting the reticent to outlining their novels. In that article, dear Reader, we looked at good reasons why one would convert to being an outliner […]


  4. […] Friday Forum: Outlining Jessica Rosen has a focused link love forum. “Each week, the Friday Forum will focus on certain subject links to do with writing and/or publishing.” This weeks links are all to do with outlining your baby before you jump in, all of them are a must read for the time pressed writer. […]


  5. […] Friday Forum: Outlining – Are you a Pantser? I was. I converted. (Mostly.) Here are some solid outlining procedures that may give you a second thought to pantsing your way entirely through NaNo. Take a special look at the 30-minute outline procedure that’s linked to NaNo’s own site. I use it myself to clarify what I’m doing. […]


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