Thursday, February 28, 2008


I was asked if I outline a book before writing it.I don't recall that I have ever actually outlined a book, but my preparation to write a (nonfiction) book does actually create a loose outline of sorts. When I get an idea for a book I start collecting ideas and resources in a file folder. when that file gets too full, I sit down and divide the contents into a number of folders representing the various aspects of the book--which eventually become the various chapters. I then continue to fill each of the new folders with additional ideas and resources. Before I'm ready to write, I review the contents of each chapter folder to be sure it is a broad enough aspect of the topic to deserve its own chapter (if not I incorporate it into another chapter or drop it)--or is it too broad and need to be broken down into
additional chapters? I'm looking for balance at this point. Once that balance
is achieved, I can sit down and write up the chapters using the content of the
folder as a guide. However, I do think in neat little boxes--or in a linear
fashion--so I don't require a formal outline. Whether you do or don't need an
outline is a decision you need to make after a personal assessment of how
your brain works and whether the result is publishable. Cec is right that
whether or not you get published is the ultimate test of how successful your
method is. I've seen a lot of those manuscripts, too, that would have benefited
from an outline. It really comes down to you understanding how you work best.

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