Friday, August 12, 2011

How outlining is like parenting

How do you outline? For my first YA I was in every sense of the word—a panster. For my freelance projects and my non-fiction, including my book ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ I use a very detailed outline. But I’m changing things up for my current work in progress. I’m using, what I call a working outline. With this outline, I stay at least ten scenes ahead of my writing. This way I have direction but still have freedom to be creative and let the characters speak for themselves.

Really, this is like parenthood. As a working-from-home mother to a one-year-old, I try my best to plan my day. Any mother will agree with me that such an idea is impossible. So, my new outline approach is like parenthood. I plan but I also leave room for the unpredictable.

I believe that writers have to experiment with various processes to find what works best for them. My YA came together finally but without following a plan it did make the revision process much longer and more of a challenge. That is why I decided to try something new this time around. Currently, I’m researching for my next non-fiction dog book. By the time I begin writing it, I will have every chapter and section fully outlined.

How do you outline? How did you come to find what works for you?


I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research I have found. Click here for more information.

Friday blog shout-outs to….

Author Susan Meier shared her plotting secrets on author Anna DeStefano’s blog. This is a not to miss read!

Author Jami Gold’s post ‘What Wrong Turns Have You Made?’ is so true and insightful.

Social Media expert, Kristen Lamb talks ‘Spam Toad vs. Author Brand’ in another fabulous and humorous article.


  1. Thanks for the blog link and kind words. I appreciate it! :)

  2. You are always welcome Jami. I love your blog!

  3. For my first novel, I had a paragraph long plotline and pantsed my way through. For my current WIP, I pantsed through far more tediously and now I'm going back and applying more structure retroactively. I think I'm going to outline better in the future. I read Save the Cat and am now reading Story Engineering to help me figure out the best method to plot. But I like the idea of a general outline!

  4. I didn't outline on paper for my first novel but I mulled it over forever each night in my head and realized I had pretty much outlined in my head. For my current novel, I have put it down on paper, but it is a loose outline and changes frequently.

    I just found your blog. It's great. Thanks! I'm a new follower :) PS My family dog growing up was named Oscar. Fond memories...