How to write a novel outline

How does a pantser write using an outline? Well, I am so glad you asked. I am about to drop that info on you right now.

Here is another post about outlines from earlier this year – I have said a few things about them before now.


First of all, before all else, decide what sort of story you want to write. Is it fiction? Is it a mystery? Romance? Other?

Then once that is done, you are ready to sit down for a little real work.

So, I find that writing books goes a lot farther when we start out with small ideas written out in outline form and build them up from there. I do not count words at this point. For sooooo many reasons! The biggest of which is that you are only in the idea phase and stuff changes. No sense making yourself crazy. I have discovered that the less stress you put on yourself at this time – the better your results will be. Different strokes for different folks. I am not scared of fat outlines, that can be edited down later-but I do try to keep it relevant. No wandering here folks.

Just try to get to know your story here, your characters, the important stuff. It’s a process.

Kim’s Guide to Outline a Book

First Step:

I look and see WHAT I ALREADY KNOW!  This is crucial when it comes to starting the story.  Super important in terms of new paper people, but also useful with standard stuff like setting, time of year, weather, etc.  Or it might even be noticing  the way things work like people at their jobs(I am from the corporate world so -yeah), so to save time I’ll think about how to incorporate what I already know into the scenes.

Second Step:

Next, write the outline. Scrivener is excellent for this because you can move the entries around to suit you. Generally follow these rules:

Point one – the meat of the story

Whose point of view is this story told from? What is their pain point? Where does it happen? What time of year? How does the pain point make them move forward and take action?

Point two – the potatoes of the story

Especially relevant are other items of story.

Is there a sub-plot I can weave in? Who are the supporting characters?

I plan for subplots and supporting characters like making a lunch for kids. It has to be good, quick, and non-refrigerated.

Third Step:

Here, I research. I do this last after all the brainstorming, world-building, etc. I mean, you can go down so many rabbit holes doing this research stuff, no written matter will happen. And by the way, Scrivener is excellent for this also as it allows you to put research materials in the binder portion VERY easily. Straight outta Internet.

Anyway, I hope this helps you get started. I try to use some sort of outline basically every book. It does save time later. And since I have mentioned Scrivener ad nauseum in this post, here is the link if you haven’t gotten yours:

It’s only $40.00 so – not a huge investment and you may find it helps you get more writing done.


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What are you doing to increase your chances of being a better writer? There are a lot of ways you can do that. You can read non-fic books that teach ways to write, or watch videos, listen to podcasts, or be a part of a membership community.

I have a good book to get you started on your journey right here.

I was a member of a writing community for a LOT of years. It was how I learned about writing stuff. Critique groups on those sites were some of my best and most helpful friendships. Those kind (ahem) friends, who were my first readers, helped teach me in ways that I have not had since.


Too bad those sorts of communities have gone out of vogue.

Now everyone is too busy. They pop in and out of Facebook and Twitter like fleas on a dog.

So, how do aspiring authors today get their info? I must confess, I spent way too much time this week in webinars. Yes, WEBINARS. First, those things are usually free, have sweet free gifts at the end, and offer a replay if you cannot stay to the end, or cannot make it at all but want to register.

My advice: SIGN UP! Don’t be afraid of learning through a webinar. There are often some highly informative things that get dropped on you.

The last one I attended had nearly 600 people in it. I was amazed! And MOST of them were aspiring authors. The questions that they had were very important. They showed me what they wanted to know. I think a lot of us old timers forget that there are STILL new writers out there, and THEY do not have a clue where to start. They are like a school of fish following whatever leader is in front of the pack.

If this is you, if you are a new writer, or are trying to break in, and YOU have questions – please let me know. I need to have good solid topics here on the blog, and I want to provide you with info you can use. Leave a comment, and I will address them.  I’d love to help!

Final thoughts:

Educate yourself, dear writers. The industry is like a thundercloud. It is melding and twisting and changing every day out in the Internet sky. And if you are not reading or digging in, you are behind already in knowledge. 


How phrases can change your life

What’s in a phrase or phrases that resonates with others?

I am considering phrases that I use all the time, and how if spoken often enough, can become a life-changing thing. I know I have said quite a few.

My kids will tell you that I say some things all the time and they have become life-long references that they will always remember me for. But do you have any phrases that YOU will be remembered as saying?

I recently was contacted by a teacher for my real-world address in order that her student would be able to mail me about my book, An Unexpected Performance.  We forget sometimes that books are not just products that we are putting out into the world, but that they will be there LONG after we no longer exist. And, they are affecting people and their perception of us.

Well, so do our pet phrases, so be sure yours is something that you WANT to be remembered for.

I think one of my best phrases is :


And you may certainly, click those to tweet them, and please do adhere to them. They are true words, even if I did say them.  (funny how we do not think of our words as being important – but there are a lot of them being quoted!)

Do you have any pet phrases that you say all the time? I would love to know. Please leave a comment in the section for that below. I love comments! phrases

And as I have been saying, SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER! Info about BOOK THREE in the Shannon Wallace Mysteries is coming this weekend to the newsletter subscriber family – and you know you do not want to miss out!


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If you make it good, they will come

Good books are NOT hard to find.


Everyone knows that there is a lot of noise in the book marketing industry these days. There is a lot of noise in EVERY industry these days, but of course, I am a book person, so this is my thrust for this post.

It would sell. Today, you have to pre-sell the stew out of it, get it out, and scream scream scream about it until your potential purchaser takes notice. If they ever do.

In the era of big five publishing and their being the only game in town. you didn’t have to work so hard to get it noticed as the publisher would help you. Now for the most part, WE ARE the publisher and … it ain’t so easy. Good books do exist, but everyone thinks that.

Today, readers have millions of options—literally. Sheesh. That’s a lot of screaming going on. Imagine if you followed every one of those people on social media? Would you ever get to the end of it? Not likely.

And the reality is: most publishers, indie especially, do not do the things to help them stand out and have to scream less.

What are those?

The normal things, really. Make it an outstanding read, cover it with an astonishing cover, and of course, talk about it and hopefully get noticed. Most small published authors are a little mousy. They don’t like to market.

Nobody wants to be THAT person, right?

But as in the olden days, or golden days, books are still hot commodities. Word of mouth still carries a lot of weight.

If you are a reader, you tell others when you hit upon a book that appeals to you, don’t you? Well, that’s important. We writers continue to rely on that sort of advertising.

If you want to shout about my book to someone, please do so. I need the added voice out there. And thanks. THANKS so much for being my readers.


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