To do or not to do an Outline.

It’s hard to believe that the last time I wrote an article for writing advice, it was snowing. As I gaze outside my window, it’s hot. In fact, in New York, it’s 57 degrees. The average for this time of the year is 36. Would you believe that Friday my husband will be grilling out? In February? That’s ludicrous.

There is something about the warm temperatures that make me lazy. I have been working hard on the last chapters of Naked Desire, a novelette that will be out next month. However, the words are coming slower as all I want to do is sleep. The one thing that I learned as an author is that I need discipline.

Some people like to figure everything that happens in the whole book. There are some who just write, not knowing what is going to happen. I would think that it is a mix of both for most writers.

When I start a novel, what do I do? I create an outline. When I wrote the first draft of a dark fantasy novel that I am hoping to have published under my real name, my cowriter and I did a sort of free form writing. We had a glitch with our writing software, and the entire manuscript was lost. When we went to rewrite it, we found ourselves lost.

As a direct result, we decided to create an outline that details the Chapter and scenes. Since then, whenever I write, I outline what will happen in each chapter and scenes.

Outline of Undercover Desire

We find the structured form of an outline helps us to keep track of all plot lines in a series, and of course, this diminishes the chance of plot holes for us.

However, that does not mean that the outline could not be adjusted on the fly. There was a section of a scene in Undercover Desire that was scrapped. Our heroine was going to make love to her love interest near the end of the book, and I decided that it was unneeded. That part was not adding anything to the plotline, and as such, it was removed and replaced with the scene in the book.

What is the correct answer to the outline debate? There is one and only one answer. You need to find a process that works for you, and you need to stick with it. It does not matter if you free write, as long as your plot is tight, and if outlining helps you see the plot, then it would do no good to just “wing” it.

As much as I love the craft, I found that becoming an author was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. Most people will sit down, jot down a thousand words, and subsequently give up on their novel. Whether you outline your novel or not, you need to remember to finish your novel. That is what separates the amateur writers with the professionals. Find a process that works for you, stick to it, and finish your book.

Find a method that works for you, stick to it, and finish your book.

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Lydia lives in New York with her husband, a dark fantasy novelist, as well as their daughter. They are regular contributors to several charities, including the rescue of exotic cats from abuse.

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