Outlines: The Cookbook of Writing.

Hey all!

Are you an author who religiously outlines before a project? Maybe you dabble in it but then go to writing or maybe you just wing it. I believe we all outline to a degree, but the idea of what an outline is is fluid. Personally, my outlines are generic. I generally write my plot points in a list format and leave the rest up to my imagination. I feel the way I outline helps get the creative juices going without restriction.

But I have tried extensive outlining. And to be honest, I think it’s great. To have a clear trajectory for your project that will ideally keep one on task, that’s the dream, right? The problem I seem to have, though, is that as I dive into a more detailed outline I end up getting distracted because of all the ideas that whir through this chaotic brain of mine! So please, drop your tips on outlining? What works for you?

I met someone at a writer’s conference who actually did no outline at all, basically would just wing it. Remember how I said I believe the term ‘outline’ to be fluid? Well, this is where it comes into play and am curious on your opinions. When we receive that creative spark, the idea for a new project, we tend to have an idea of how we want it go. So whether we write it down or keep it in our head as we jot it down, that’s still considered an outline.

For example, I had a dream about a year ago. Simple dream really but when I woke up I needed to jot it down so I did and left it as it sat for several months until I was cleaning out my files and came across it again. I remembered the dream and was able to look at what I had written and even though I didn’t jot a traditional outline down, I knew how I wanted to turn a simple 500 page note into a short story. Beginning, the guts, the end.

And now that I’ve fleshed out the short story, I am trying to work out whether I have enough to actually create a full length novel. If not, I plan on submitting it as a short story in a contest later this year but time will tell I suppose.

But do you see what I am saying about outlines? In reality, they really are the cookbooks of writing. When I think of outlines, I think a piece of paper with notes on how a story progresses but there is no written rule that says it has to be that way and I suppose the same goes for writing. We are the chefs and our projects the finished product. So whatever you use for your own cookbook, you do you because only YOU can make the product at the end.

It’s your recipe. How are you making it?

As always, with love,


Published by alhoppa

Simply put, I'm a thirty something single mom of three young boys with a passion for reading and writing. Writing, and reading for that matter, has been a passion since elementary school when a friend and I had our short collection of poetry published through the school where it was on display in the library for an entire year. While I still enjoy poetry, my love has grown into short stories and full length novels. Tag along for the journey, it'll be documented here every step of the way.

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