How an outline helps an uncommitted writer

Absence doesn’t make the story grow fonder when it comes to writing.

I’m in the middle of a manuscript (literally, the middle — I’ve got 34,000 words on paper), and for a variety of reasons good and bad, I haven’t looked at it since March 6. At least that’s what the computer’s time stamp says. Has it really been nearly two months? My second book isn’t going to get written that way.

How does a writer get back into a half-finished work and make sense of it?

An outline.

I have an outline for this work, and I’m checking off each chapter as I finish the first draft of it.

I created this detailed road map after reading “Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need” by Blake Snyder on the recommendation of author and blogger Catherine Ryan Howard, who called it “the single most useful tool I have ever come across when it comes to that thorny little problem called plotting.”

story plotting notes

Here’s Book 2 in the form of 40 Post-It Notes outlining my plot points.

Yes, as the title suggests, Snyder’s book is about writing screenplays, but many of his concepts can be applied to books. Not only is it written with style and verve, it has substance and detailed tips for following through. After reading it, you’ll never watch a movie the same way again.

I used some of the tips to punch up the outline for my second book, and when I sat down to write today, I jumped right into the fray and knew what needed to be done.

Not that I got a lot done, however. Unless 300 words counts. They count.



One thought on “How an outline helps an uncommitted writer

  1. Pingback: A year in books at Minnesota Transplant’s house | Minnesota Transplant

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