London's Reviews > Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
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Mar 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: writing, non-fiction
Read from April 13 to 14, 2012

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London K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel occupies a unique place on my writing bookshelf. While other books delve into outlining as part of a larger writing strategy, Weiland focuses in on an aspect of writing that for the majority of writers is critical, but often misunderstood or feared.

I am not an innately structured person. I'm actually a moderately chaotic person (I hate messes and have immaculately organized computer files, but otherwise do most things somewhat randomly or whimsically). I'm also a committed improviser when it comes to writing. However, having thrown away half a novel, written the next draft without ever quite understanding my ending, I reluctantly turned to help: Outlining Your Novel.

Weiland never insists that outlining is the only way to write, but she makes a solid argument for its benefits and counters many of the reasons people like me are reluctant to outline. With Weiland, outlining is not a rigid process, but much more free-flowing ideation research. She guides readers through thinking about their settings, characters and plots in depth with an emphasis on keeping yourself open to all ideas.

Once all the ideas are on the table, Weiland guides the reader through filtering through them to get what you need to start your project.

The weakness of Outlining is that there isn't much focus on structure, which is definitely something anyone outlining a fresh project will want to understand and have mastery over. Other books, such as Victoria Mixon's brilliant The Art & Craft of Story: 2nd Practitioner's Manual, provide ample guidance to structure, but I would have preferred that Weiland tackle it in depth.

Despite that flow, Outlining Your Novel is a great addition to any would-be outlining writer's bookshelf. Even if you only use some of the advice, odds are working through Weiland's ideas will make your writing stronger.


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