257 of 262 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2011
As a writer who has attempted a handful of novels in the past without an outline, I knew it was something I would need going forward with my newest work-in-progress. I wasn't sold on the idea of an outline at first, though. They seemed restrictive, boring, and frankly too much work BEFORE starting the real work of writing a book. But after reading "Outlining Your Novel" my mind is completely changed. In fact, I doubt that I'll ever go back to "pantsing" it with novels. Weiland's guide not only walks you through the steps necessary to set up a functional, useful outline, but it also explains WHY having a road map will make your story better. She's absolutely right-- when I try to write without a guide, I only get so far before I panic and stop working altogether. I would never head to a new city without directions, so it makes no sense to write a new story without a guide either. Both are new, unfamiliar territory. Both can be conquered with some planning.
I read this book in less than 24 hours, highlighting points that resonated with me so I can revisit them again and again. I read it a second time to begin working on my outline. However you read it-- at the speed of light or slow and steady-- you will come away with practical tools to get your outline started. If you're a writer, you can't afford to NOT read this!
108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
As the owner of more than 40 books on writing, I've found it increasingly difficult to find a book that offers a whole lot of material that hasn't been covered in numerous other books. Outlining Your Novel provided plenty of new and useful information to me as a writer and, unlike many writing books which left me feeling more despair than enthusiasm about writing, it left me feeling eager to start my next book. Despite its title, the book will be very useful to writers of all genres in all forms of media, whether you're writing a 300-page book or a 300-word blog. My only minor complaint is that the author's novel Dreamlander, which has not yet been released, was used for many examples, and it would be nice to be able to read the book right away after finishing this one so I can read the examples in the actual book. But that's a small gripe about a great book. Highly recommended, well worth the low price.
91 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2011
As a reluctant outliner, I couldn't recommend K.M. Weiland's book more. The techniques she suggests in "Outlining Your Novel" will definitely help me in future projects as I further explore the outlining concept.
Her book is well organized, beginning with many misconceptions about outlines--many of which I used to adhere to until recently--and taking you step-by-step to the start of the actual writing of your novel. Several techniques I'd already begun utilizing prior to reading her book. Many others I am already contemplating using as I begin working on my next three projects, two of which I've already started "pantsing." In fact, I can see a couple packages of my favorite pens and several more notebooks in the not-to-distant future for me. :)
What makes K.M.'s book great is the fact she speaks from personal experience, describing the techniques she personally uses when drafting her novels. In a series of interviews, she also draws on the varied experiences of ten other authors, such as Elizabeth Spann Craig and Jody Hedlund. Examples of good techniques are also used from various books and movies--The Patriot and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow are made examples of more than once.
If you're a newbie writer, or just a newbie to outlining, reading K.M.'s book is well worth the time. All of the techniques indicated may not be for you--I know I'm not nearly as detailed as she is!--but they do add something extra to think about as you embark on this great writer journey.
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
I wrote 82,000 words of a novel as a "pantser," then I got stuck. So I decided to do some outlining to find the problem areas and help focus my thoughts on where the story needed to go. I figured a more mechanical approach might be what I needed to get unstuck. So far, the book has been helpful for prodding me to ask questions about my story and characters and for trying to find the story's premise.
Unfortunately, what I really wanted from this book were examples of mind maps, maps, and other types of outlines that aren't just a list of questions. Chapter 2 talks about mind maps, pictorial outlines, and maps, but it doesn't show any of these. I would dearly like to see one of her mind maps, or a scribbled map of a city, or *something* that doesn't resemble typeset text. It seems that if you're talking about pictures, why not throw a few in there to illustrate the point?
The book is probably worthwhile just for the list of questions that you should ask your character, but I also like chapter 10 which covers how to break down your story into scenes and chapters. While I think I have a good feel for that subject, Weiland's coverage of pacing is helpful in figuring out where the story sags or where too much happens at once.
The book seems to be self-published (tell-tale toner underneath the gloss coating on the cover and the myriad ads in the back), but it's done well. It just could have been even better if there were some illustrations. I took off a star for that because I think it would have added a lot to the book -- you know, show, don't tell. :P
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I can hardly express my appreciation for this book!
For the past two years I have been struggling to write an Epic Fantasy novel. I've purchased 45 or more books on writing, and while I have come across my fair share of really good books on writing that made quite a difference for me, I never have come across a book that will be as helpful to me as this one already is.
Basically, this book is a step by step guide of how to organize your novel. The brilliant part of it (and what should have been obvious to me already) is how it starts you off writing generic ideas and then ties it in to more detail later. I used to think I had to cram all kinds of detail in (with setting and character) right away. I realized, in the middle of reading this, that the brilliance of keeping things really generic is that it is not painful to make changes. An example of this is how, in the beginning (during the Crafting the Premise phase) you ask generic questions about your characters such as how the inciting incident will affect your main character. Later, in the General Sketches phase you do short and general character summaries.You also ask questions about how your characters personalities evolve over the course of the story. Then, during the Character Sketches phase, you deal with backstory and past questions. Then later you do 100 question interviews with each character, and get real specific data on these people.
The point I am trying to make is that it never would have occurred to me (in a million years) to split up the character questions like that. The questions were all very appropriate given the time they were asked, and the depth of knowledge that was needed to further develop the story at that point. It brilliantly expanded from generic, to more and more specific, and enhanced the plot at every phase.
I still have to use the system, of course, but I had great luck already using the What If? prompts in the beginning of this process. Lots of ideas started pouring out. I was so convinced that I would have success making progress in my novel that I took all the questions and inserted them in a software program (data collection software called myBase that I use for my research). It's a folder within a folder system,and I basically put all of the questions she asks in descending order so that I can "fill in the blank" as I go. It's taken me the better part of the day to do it, but now I have a template I can use any time I write a book.
This is the clearest system I have ever seen for writing a novel. All of the other books I have read left me feeling that I just couldn't get organized somehow. This system is so well designed I have a hard time imagining I couldn't have great success with it. That doesn't mean I won't have a ridiculous amount of work to do (because I will), but now there is no question in my mind how to get from point A to point B.
Hands down, best purchase I have made for my writing!
Thank you K.M. Weiland! What a gift this book is!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
After reading this book, Outlining Your Novel, I am impressed with the author's keen insight on novel construction. Her book has given me great insight into my currant manuscript. I have been a pantser for years, but when I started working on my current project, at the beginning of this year's National Novel Writing Month, I soon realized that the idea was just too BIG.
I have had this idea playing around the back of my head for going on ten years now. I thought I had a good sense of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to write. Though by the end of November, and over 90,000 words later, I felt I really had gone nowhere with the story/characters. This manuscript required a thorough plotting before I could really understand what I was writing and the statement I wanted to get across to the reader.
The author's clear and concise book has helped to settle my muddy lake of creativity; in fact, the dam that blocked my creative river has a gaping hole down the middle. Had I not stumbled across Outlining Your Novel while searching for help to get out of the quagmire I had written myself into, I would still be floundering in the murky depths.
So I can't thank the author enough for writing this book. I want her to know that I plan to follow the insights of her book to the letter. I don't expect them to make me the next great author, but book has given me the tools to map out a clear path to what I truly want to write. I thank K. M. Weiland, sincerely, for that. Though it still remains to be seen, I believe she has made me a better writer.
55 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2013
The title is completely misleading. Despite the hype from the author's groupies, this text has next to nothing about HOW to outline (nor an example of such) which is why I was conned into spending the money on it. Had it been titled Creatively Brainstorming Your Fiction I would have given it high marks, but then I wouldn't have bought it in the first place because I wasn't in the market for a book on that aspect of writing. It does build a strong case for the necessity of 'outlining' your plot. However, it would be more accurate to say you should write a full, highly-detailed Hollywood-style treatment just as James 'The Fiction Factory' Patterson does.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Within a few pages of reading this little gem I had realized one reason for my own failure at writing and immediately began using the exercises the author recommends in this work. Before finishing, I had more than half a dozen pages of a rough outline and am more inspired than ever to continue on the outline path to completing my novel. With personal anecdotes and interviews with other accomplished authors, Ms. Weiland uncovers the power of outlining. And it is not the kind of outlining you may have encountered in the past with set numbered reverse-stairs structure but a free-flowing method that enhances and frees your creative side. The author includes many examples (there can never be too many) of actual outlines she created in the process of her extensive writing experience. The concrete examples, interviews, detailed explanations of the payoff, and even links to further resources on the web will inspire you to give this approach a try. There is no doubt that this inspiration has set me on a road map to more success than I have had before. It may take time to start with an outline process but I am convinced it will help avoid the chronic rewrites I kept encountering in the past due to poor story planning. Many thanks to the author for this wonderful book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2012
I taught line-of-action writing (for playwrights and screenwriters) on campus for twenty-seven years. When I moved from scripts to novels, I continued to use that line-of-action process. But scriptwriting just isn't the same, so I started reading about novel writing. I've read them all, from James Scott Bell's excellent books to ninety-nine cent ebooks full of hints and tips. But with my current project, I was still stuck. Things weren't fitting together.
I admit I bought Outlining Your Novel on Kindle, read a couple of chapters, and returned it. Why did I need an outline when I already used a line-of-action? But bits of what I'd read kept sneaking back into my mind, so I re-Kindled the book and read it all the way through. Things are so much clearer now; I actually know what I'm doing for the first time in a couple of months. And the book proved so useful, I ordered a hard copy so I could brightline and circle key points.
Please trust that I've got two shelves and a Kindle packed with books on how to write a novel, and that this one is the one I keep beside me, open, when I'm writing. It's the most profoundly useful of all those I've read. My thanks to the author.
52 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2011
Outlining a novel may sound simple enough, but when a writer realizes their story possibilities are endless, and travels down the wrong path too many times wasting precious time, a good outline becomes priceless. Weiland's book helps writers-established and beginners alike-learn that outlining is a good tool to use without sacrificing creativity. Weiland helps with formulating a strong useable outline beginning with a simple story idea and gradually works through the organization process, distilling character and plot until the author is ready to write without fear (almost) of getting bogged down in the mire. I learned a great deal from the author's examples.
Aspiring writers need this book in their reference arsenal. Writing a novel is no easy task, but with an outline, it feels much less daunting.