Reviewing is one of those things that writers both love and fear. Why? One day the shoe will be on the other foot. Someone will hopefully think enough of my book to write a review (all good stuff I am sure with like six out of five stars given). I suppose that is why I like to reserve my reviews for the books I find worthy of ownership. I have a few that are on the craft of writing that have profoundly changed my writing and made me all the better. K.M Weiland has written a series of books on the craft of writing that have filled the requirements to earn a place on the bookshelf. I often read a book on loan from the library, and when and if a book falls into the “I think everyone should read/own this book” category, I take the leap and share those feelings. The book I am sharing today is Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland.
This book is as the title suggest about how to effectively and creatively outline your novel. While I have tried, on several occasions, the pantsing method of writing. Think of pantsing as running down a hill at full speed, you start in full control of your body moving really fast then you hit that small dip which transforms you from a graceful gazelle bounding through the grassland to an awkward 12-year-old girl trying to walk in heels for the first time. Your arms jut out to the side and you begin that fledgling bird rotation, that is a clear indication that badness is coming. Then legs fight to keep you upright as you feel your body go airborne for a moment making that funny slow-motion “Oh no” sound before you are face first in a pile of, well you know. That is pantsing, or some call it writing without an outline.
When I am in that pantsing mood, I often find myself eventually stuck and my stories lose the mighty steam that started the train of thought. I admit it, I am an “outliner”. I love this book mostly because the author takes an approach that allows for huge amounts of creativity to be inserted into the outline. There shall be NO Roman Numerals in her suggestions. (If you are a Roman Numeral writer, no offense but I feel I need to lather on some Shea butter cream every time I try a standard school outline.) This book takes an in-depth look at the pluses and minuses of using an outline. I also went out on a limb and purchased the workbook companion. It was lovely. While you can use it without the accompanying book, I would warn that you miss a great deal of meat and may be frustrated. The book is stand alone, and is perfectly good without the workbook, however, the workbook allows for you to break down the suggestions and creates an engaging challenge to complete. Word to the wise, don’t write directly in the workbook, get the suggested notebook and move forward as you will use these both as reference manuals. At almost 400 words already, I need to move this review along. Here are the highlights.
- The book is not long and drawn out, the author gets to the point.
- Suggestions are more than useful, they are inspiring
- This book if used correctly, will help you develop a useful outline that will eliminate plot holes and tragic characters that are dull and flat
- This book will inspire you to dig deeper into your story, and develop a unique and fresh ideas that could alter the entire story direction– and for the better.
- The author puts fun excerpts from published writers that explain there is more than one way to outline. Which may push you to try something new that inspires further. As well as reminding us that not every outline method will work for each of your stories, you may need to expand and try a new method.
- This book is an encouragement because that story inside you my need some coaxing out but you will end with a good road map and oh yeah, you are writing!
I encourage any writers looking for real suggestions that will build your confidence, pick up this book.
Happy New Year! Oh and make this the year that you finish that book.