This is the blog of children's book author and third grade teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Outlining to revise

When I start a novel, I'm a pantser. I begin with voices and an idea and then go where the voices take me. And that works well... for a while.

But at some point going with it isn't enough, I have to figure out where the voices are leading and make sure I haven't left anything important unsaid. I have to outline.

I'm sure I just heard a collective grown. While there are writers out there who start with outlines, most that I've met don't. They worry that having an outline will take away their creativity or they get so bogged down in their outline that it hurts instead of helping their process. Here's a couple of things  I do to make it work for me:

1. Revise in Scrivener: Scrivener is an excellent program for outlining. I start by uploading my wip and breaking it up by chapter. It's really easy to do this on a mac. You just right click at the start of a chapter title or number and choose split at selection. Then I skim each chapter and write a short description that usually starts with the word, "Where..." Once I move back to cork board, I can look at all of these chapters and see what I have and what I don't. I rewrite the outline in the notes section on the side and then create some empty chapter folders for things that I need to add. I move anything I don't want to the trash, but that's okay because on Scrivener the trash is still there and can be looking at for ideas at any time.

2. Seek out the Plot Whisperer: The Plot Whisperer is this amazing woman named Martha Alderson who spends a lot of time thinking and writing about creating plots. She maintains a blog and twitter feed  also has books out on the subject. What really helps me is her youtube series. I watched the videos on my iPad while doing the exercises on my laptop. She breaks it down in a way that makes sense and I think anyone can follow the videos and find ways to make their book better.

Do you have any great outlining resources or ideas? Do you outline at all? Leave a comment below:


  1. I started off as a panster, but when I did my first nanowrimo a few years ago I thought I'd better at least have a brief outline to guide me as I'd be writing so fast. But the end result wasn't that great because I was so focused on sticking to the outline and getting the words down, that I didn't listen to the voices and where they wanted the story to go. So now I do a bit of both, I need to at least have a brief outline so I know the main points, and using Blake Snyder's 15 Beat sheet is great for this, then I see where the story takes me and adjust as I go.

    1. I hadn't heard of Blake Snyder's 15 Beat Sheet. Thanks for the suggestion!


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