A Blog of Writing Tips, Interviews, Thoughts on the Writing Process, Book Reviews, Blog Hops, and Things NESCBWI Conference Related.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Labyrinth, Lost, Ladder, and Lager

Sometimes you become tangled in the structure of your book. You go back to check a detail or fact, and you find yourself lost in a labyrinth full of dead ends. The structure you thought you had so carefully crafted, has unraveled. 

Being lost is not the worst situation to find yourself in. We all have a writer’s toolbox, but do you have an escape route?

How about a ladder?

Sometimes you need to be able see the whole structure and rise above the Labyrinth to find your way around the dead ends. My ladder does this.

It's my outline.

When I started my first novel, chapter one spilled out. Wow, writing was so easy! After six months, I had a perfect chapter one and no more. I knew where I wanted my book to end, but I had no idea how to get there.

A very wise, very well published writer said to me, write an outline. I cringed. That would be so much extra work, I said.

The look she gave me conveyed how lazy she thought I was and that I would never be a real writer. What she actually told me was was:

1.     Write one or two sentences about what needs to happen in each chapter.
2.     Don’t feel locked into the outline; let it be alive and allowed to change.

I started with a ten-chapter outline. I know, I can see your eyes rolling, only ten chapters, but from that short outline I was able to expand and build my story’s structure. The final revision of my middle grade novel has twenty-eight chapters and clear path.

I just like how this word makes my mouth move - say it! Lager.


  1. Sometimes the extra hard work pays off though. Whether it's outlining or studying craft - it pays off.

  2. I love your blog title AND this post!

    Yes - outlining is important. I usually pants my way through novels, but I still have some sort of outline to direct me through.

    Hopping over from A-Z. Nice to meet you!

  3. love the image of a wise person looking at me as I protest from allowing their wisdom to enter into me. Lager to you too.