Learning to outline

I’m a pantser.

A pantser is a writer that sits down to a blank sheet of paper and writes until they have a story or they can’t write anymore.

Sometimes, I can finish the story, but most times I can’t.

So, I decided to start using an outline.

A while back I bought a book called outlining your novel by K. M. Weiland.

If there is a more in-depth outline, I have not found it yet.


Anyway, I went in search of outlines online because the outline in that book just seemed too much for me.

As all good writers do when confronted with what to do next, I turned to my second love, Google.

I put in “novel outlines”.

Can you guess what happened?

Yup. Google brought up outlines, tons of outlines.

I went from site to site, down the list, looking at the first 10 outlines.

The easiest looking one of the first ten was the three act structure.

This broke a novel down into three parts. Approximately, one quarter was the first act, the introduction of everything pretty much. The middle half was, of course, the middle half, the meat of the story. The last quarter was the ending, the wrap-up of everything.
I spent two weeks trying to learn the three-act structure. I was trying to apply it to stories I had already written that had plot holes and inconsistencies and other things like this.

What I discovered was that the three-act structure actually had plot points or beats or something that went along with it. I spent a week trying to learn about these plot points are beats before I gave up.

So, back to Google and it’s list of outlines.

This time, I decided I was going to try the snowflake method. What I didn’t know was that this was a pretty in-depth outline as well. Apparently, it’s rather difficult because they offer a class that teaches you how to do it.

Still, being a stubborn Jenny that I am, I tried to learn it for a week before giving up on yet another outline.

Next, I moved on to the three act structure and beat sheet. I was more confused and frustrated than I had ever been in my life. This outline method instigated my first episode of self-doubt in reference to my writing.

I spent a whole month trying to decide whether or not I wanted to continue writing. In spite of 30 plus years of knowing I wanted to be a publishing author.

At the age of ten, I knew I wanted to make a living by writing fantasy fiction books. Suddenly, after 37 years of never faultering in spite of taking years off at a time, I was questioning whether I should continue writing.

Questioning whether or not I could learn to do what I need to do to be proud of the books I publish.

Questioning whether or not I wanted to put the work in to fix my stories, published or not.
Then, I came across a suggested video on YouTube. It’s been a tremendous help to me.

It gave me the courage, and the knowledge, to put my stories into an outline and fix what is wrong.

Or, at least, I believe it will. So far, I am extremely happy with it.

Until next time…

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