The Importance of Writing Outlines…I’m Glad I Did!- Part One

I’ve been writing for over a year and a half and have learned so much! When I sit back and think about all the information I’ve gained and the improvements made, it still amazes me.

When I started my writing career, I did it by checking out several books on writing from my local library. All were very informative. Here are a few:

  • So You Want to Write, by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood
  • Twenty Master Plots and How to Build Them, by Ron Tobias
  • This Year You Write Your Novel, by Walter Mosley
  • Your First Novel, by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb
  • Mastering Point Of View, Sherri Szeman
  • Make A Scene, by Jordan E. Rosenfeld
  • G.M.C.: Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon

I learned what types of scenes were found in a book, the three parts of a book, Acts one, two, and three. I learned how to write and develop characters. I also learned that writing story outlines was also important to building a good story.

But did I do it? Not really. I can’t lie, I hate going overboard in details. I felt like I didn’t need to do it because I had the whole story in my head. Yep, a few notes, no more than ten sheets of paper, were all I needed. The results? I wrote my first story in three months. The second and third stories were also completed in three months. I thought that was amazing. I had it all figured out, I was ready to move to the next step….publication!

Yeah right.

One of the books I read suggested that as a new writer, it is beneficial to join a writers group. Having other writers of various levels of experience read my work would help make sure my story and characters were strong and made sense. The first group I joined led me to a wonderful group of people, a playwright, and several published authors. I attended a local Writers Conference (something I advise everyone to do at least once!) and again meet wonderful writers in various stages of their careers and received great advice.

Later, I attended a Writer’s Workshop at my favorite library and meet great authors, Chicki Brown and Chesya Burke. Both authors have just published new books. (For information on Chicki Brown’s books, see previous post, New Books By New Authors…Check Them Out!). After meeting Mrs. Brown, I was invited to join her on-line critique group. Oh yeah, I knew I was headed somewhere now! I happily posted the first few chapters of my first book, the one I knew was ready to go….and crashed and burned. LOL.

The ladies of my critique group are very honest and quickly advised me that my storyline needed more work. I had a great opening Prologue, and the dialogue and characters were wonderful…but the story started to lag after chapter three. Talk about being humbled. I quickly scraped the story (figuratively…after three months I wasn’t about to throw it away!), went back to the drawing board and tried again. After various attempts of starting a new story, I was still told I needed to work on making the storyline stronger.

Man was I frustrated! After reevaluating my decision to write, I stepped away for a month. It nearly drove me crazy not writing anything! I knew then writing was something I seriously wanted to do. So, I took a Writer’s Workshop at my community college in February. The teacher, Valarie Clark, is a published author/agent. From her, I learned the importance of finding a writing platform and once again, that dreaded outline. Outlining the story will help with writing the manuscript.

So…..I spent a few days trying to figure out what to do. What, exactly, was my genre? What was my writing platform? Who were my characters? What were their motivations, likes and dislikes???? What was my target audience?

Thinking about where to go with my writing was a confusing couple of days. Then, one day after talking to one of my critique partners, I got struck by creative lightning. Decisions on who my characters were and how to tell their story flooded me. The next morning I grabbed pen and paper and started that dreaded outline.

“So what are you doing now?” you may ask. And I’ll tell you….on my next post, The Importance of Writing Outlines, Part Two on Friday.

Till then, Write On!

6 thoughts on “The Importance of Writing Outlines…I’m Glad I Did!- Part One

  1. I couldn't get into your blog to read this until I switched from Internet Explorer 9 to Mozilla Firefox as my new browser. For some reason IE kept freezing up.So glad you're encouraged about your growth as a writer! I knew you needed more than just my opinion. It helps so much when you get different opinions. Those ladies and I have been together for years, and I hope we'll be together for many more to come. Happy you're a part of our group.

  2. Thanks for your support Chicki! I plan to be up on Amazon with you guys as soon as I can…but not too soon, it's gotta be done write. One thing I've learned as a writer is that you must have patience. It's possible that my kids have used up most of mine so I'm having to dig in for reserves. LOL!

  3. Thank you for posting! You must have more courage than I do, sharing your first draft with other people. I've only shared mine with one person, and that's only because he waterboarded me and put me in an electric chair! (Not really.)I seem to have the opposite sort of problem that you do, however; when I was 12 years old, I outlined the entire first novel of a fantasy trilogy I wanted to write. I've been thinking about finally writing the book for July NaNoWriMo (even though it's cliche) or maybe in November; your post has gotten me all excited now about outlining it on yWriter5!

  4. michaelastashjian…I'm so happy to hear that! I've had lots of people tell me that they thought I was bold for sharing my work so soon. But to me, it's the only true barometer to see if what I'm doing is good enough to move forward. If you hold it too close to home, you'll never know if you need to improve. But don't let just anyone read your work! Family is good, especially if they are supportive. My husband hasn't actually read my full ms, but he willingly listens to my ideas and gives helpful suggestions. He's the one who reinforced the idea that I needed to write the outline and stayed on me until I got it done. My cousin, who doesn't like reading romance, is also a good sounding board. I know I'm going in a good direction when she gets interested in what the story is about. You definitely want someone who is on the same page as you are though, such as a fellow writer, someone who has had some experiences in the writing game. They can point out things you may have missed and what they have learned. Join a local Writer's Group or find a critique group. All crits are beneficial, both good and bad. If your serious about what you want too do and they see that your willing to listen and work hard, you will be surprised at how may writers will be willing to help you get better. Good luck with your writing and be sure to check my blog tomorrow. I'll be posting some good information and links to help you better your outline!If your on Facebook, send me a friend request: I'm M.j.Kane Take care!

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