Returning to my posts about my writing process, today I’m talking about what can be a surprisingly controversial topic in the writing community. And that is: To outline? Or not to outline?

Inspiration

There are authors out there who swear by having little to no plan at all for their stories. They claim that it makes it more fresh and exciting. Whereas those who advocate for outlining say that without one you’ll end up with a giant mess.  

Of course what it comes down to is that all our minds work differently, so what works best for some won’t work at all for others. For some people, crafting a novel without a real idea of where the story is going is the best plan. But for others, that would be a waste of time and outlining is the way to go. With me being a highly rigid person who has liked having a solid plan for my day since I was a teenager, I fall very firmly into being an outliner. 

But then you have the problem of there being so very many different ways to outline a book, and there will always be people who SWEAR you won’t have a proper story if you don’t follow a particular outline. While I agree that there are particular elements every book must have to be a good story, I don’t at all believe you have to follow a particular outline to craft a novel with all those elements. 

I tried out a couple different outlining methods before finding what works best for me, and what ended up clicking with my brain is the Inside Outline by Jennie Nash, and this is what I’ve used for every book within The Genie Whisperer series. Her outline method focuses on what happens in each scene and why it happens, which helps drive the story to the next scene.

It’s essentially outlining a story with the explanation of ‘this happens because this happened, then this happened because of that’ rather than a collection of random events that’s more along of the lines of ‘this happened and then this happened and then this happened.’ All the scenes of a story should be connected and lead to the next, which is what her method focuses on. 

Though I do adapt it for what works best for me. Her advice is to only write a few lines of what happens in each scene, whereas I sometimes write nearly an entire page outline for just one scene. It’s not uncommon for me to have a 20,000 word outline for an 80,000 word novel. But my detailed outlines are what allow me to be so productive and release new books every 3-4 months, so I’m definitely sticking with it! It’s all about finding out what works for you.