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Writer's Tools: Mad Cap Outlining

I'm NOT an outliner.  For some, this is utterly anathema, but there are many, many writers that know what I'm talking about.  And honestly, I'm the first person to espouse live and let live--whatever works for you as a writer, go for it. 

But I hit a point in my career where that wasn't possible.  This was, in many ways, a totally joyous thing--after Scarlet, my publisher was willing to consider sequels, and for them to consider sequels, I had to write OUTLINES.  God-awful, why-would-I-write-this-instead-of-a-book, if-I-could-tell-a-story-in-one-page-I-wouldn't-waste-my-time, this-isn't-my-skill-set, how-do-I-know-what-my-story-is-about OUTLINES.

I was pretty lost.  And I muddled my way through it--I figured my way into a half-decent outline for Lady Thief, but the one for Lion Heart was all wrong.  It put me in a bad position when it came time to write the book, because it was A book, but it wasn't THIS book. 

But from Lady Thief to Lion Heart, and in everything since then, I kept modifying and learning about my own processes, and how they seem to change for every single book that I write.  So this is just one of many tools that I've found useful; this is also something I've presented to the New England chapter of SCBWI at their annual conference and again at their Encore! presentation. 


I think it's important to write answers on post-its or something A) bright and b) movable--I think it changes the way your mind is engaging, and for revision, plotting, or outlining, that's crucial.

When to use this tool:

This is something you can do when you're exploring an idea, but it's also useful at many stages.  I've used it for revision very successfully, and also when I was about 10K into a novel and trying to figure out if it had merit, in addition to the revamp of Lion Heart that I mentioned. 


You'll notice they come in categories like CHARACTER and SETTING; I think most of these can be used multiple times with different characters, locations, etc.  In stakes and conflicts, the prompt questions are referring to your MAIN CHARACTER, but could theoretically be encompassing other characters as well. 

So enjoy!  Questions are here:


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