5 Random Things: Outline This

Posted on 22 January 2013

I spent about half of my long weekend feeling too sick to do anything and the other half working on my new novel and fearing that I’m writing myself into one giant corner. So! Today’s blog will not go much deeper than the following five random things:

1. Super sexy sci-fi/fantasy novel cover remakes, anyone?

2. A fun writing podcast by these guys. In this episode, they discuss, among many other things, the bleakness of life, how to use bookstores to determine the season, and a lively debate about whether it’s “Suzie” or “Suze” Orman, and if it’s the latter, why that’s wrong.

3. Fiction Writers Review reassures us that maybe the National Book Awards won’t actually shut out books published by university presses.

4. ProCATStination, as shown in this image, was very much a part of my life this weekend. Saucy and Cirrus continue battling it out for the ultimate distract-Laura-from-writing-at-all-costs title.

5. A writing group member once told me I was “doing it wrong” by not outlining my novel in full detail before I started writing. Yes, okay, maybe I’m a little concerned about the corner I may or may not have written myself into recently, but it’s pretty well established that some writers flourish by using outlines and others most definitely do not. On a related note, I appreciate this take on “reverse outlining” and am already looking forward to making my own outline….after the first draft is done.

Do you plot your course in advance or let yourself get lost?

Image: Anna-Marie Jung

12 responses to 5 Random Things: Outline This

  • margosita says:

    I spent a chunk of this weekend despairing over the fact that I have no idea how to write a novel and that just starting wasn’t good enough without an outline, but I never write with an outline and also, I still don’t know how plot works! Yet at the same time I have all these dreams of a million post-its on a wall that I can move around to form a plot, though where I got that idea I don’t know…

    ProCATSination is hilarious. Yes, I can (and do) turn off the internet. But I can’t turn off the cat, or the window. So I’m never totally distraction free!

    • Sometimes I think I have no idea how to write a novel, either, and I’m on #4.

      Oops, I guess that wasn’t too encouraging…well. Maybe ask me again when I’m on the third draft of this book instead of the first?

      And when all else fails, turn to your post-its on the wall idea. There is something so satisfying and comforting about a wall full of post-its during the novel writing process.

  • pg says:

    Interestingly enough, that BBC article in #1 was published a day before Jim Hines revealed his greatest work yet, which employed a pro photographer and four other SF writers:


  • Teri says:

    Thank goodness I have these dogs to distract me. I mean, keep me sane. I mean, distract me when I really do need to be distracted in order to be sane. Or something like that.


    I actually believe these dogs keep me writing. I have to be home for them, so I may as well get the laptop out, too, right?

    • I like how you think. Maybe I need to adopt 10 more cats, and then of course I’ll have to quit my job so I can stay home to care for them and break up cat fights, which means more writing time. Sounds like a plan! Thanks, Teri, for setting my life on this path. This cat-infested, crazy-lady path.

  • Paul Lamb says:

    I liken my outlining to taking a train ride. I know where I’m getting on, and I know where I want to go. I know some of the stops along the way. But the scenery I’ll see, the people I’ll meet, the conversations I’ll have, the naps I’ll take. I know none of that in advance.

    I certainly don’t write down any outlines, but I have a general idea of where I want to go.

    • I always tell myself I want to use this kind of general, skeleton-type of outline, but it never happens. I might know some of the events that might happen, of course, or sort of the general arc, but I never know the destination or even the overall bones of the plot. I’ve come to accept this and just go with it.

  • Tom M. says:

    Thanks for the link, Laura! Glad you enjoyed the show.

  • Erika Marks says:

    Ah, the dreaded outline. I’m diving in to a new WIP, Laura, and I swear as soon as I sit down to write an outline, the waters freeze up. It’s scary–and yet, maybe I just need to finally accept that I am not an outliner…

  • Catherine says:

    Any time I plot, I just go in a completely new and much more exciting direction. Plots tend to make me feel stunted, I much prefer the unbidden crashing into my mind and taking hold! That’s where I really have some fun.

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