Three Dirty Birds on Weiland's Abbreviated Outline

The Dirty Birds are back with the second to last chapter of KM Weiland’s book Outlining Your Novel: Map your way to success. In this chapter, she shows us one of her abbreviated outlines and talks about how to make one.

Zoe: Here’s the abbreviated summary of the abbreviated outline chapter: take your extended outline and shorten it.

Kate: It did give me more respect for Brandon Sanderson (who I happen to like), because he seems to have a clear, unbiased view of plotters vs. pantsers.

Ana: And spend several weeks doing it. (I watched lectures he gave on youtube. I think I took more out of those than I took from this novel.)

Kate: His lectures are good. It’s very reassuring to hear that he wrote 12 novels before he sold one, too.

Zoe: Oh good. I can procrastinate today by watching his lectures.

Ana: Here’s a handy index

Zoe: Thank you! In the meantime, I did do an abbreviated outline of my outline this past week, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time. I just wanted to break it up into story goals I could aim for every day until I got the book done. (I like it better than aiming for word counts; it makes me feel more like I’m getting somewhere.)

Ana: I’d like to have story goals, but that would require putting my outline down on paper… God I’m lazy.

Zoe: You can do story goals on the fly. I used to. I’d just write down my goal for tomorrow when I finished for today.

Kate: I like to leave it with a bit still left to write, and I put it on a sticky that this is what I need to do the next day.

Ana: I could try doing that. After I enjoy the gorgeous weather today. Did I mention we’re getting 19c? (That’s 66 in F)

Kate: Ana! Stop! *Wails and stares out the window at the FOUR FEET OF SNOW still in her front yard*

Zoe: We hit 72˚F last week…for a day, and then we plunged back to 15˚F and freezing rain. But it got rid of our snow. We should do some kind of chant to get rid of Kate’s.

Kate: Watch for the UPS trucks coming your way…

Ana: In Germany we dress up in funny costumes and do silly things to drive out the cold weather. Kate should try that. We also light a fire on Easter… I’m not sure she could get a fire lit right now.

Zoe: I want pictures.

Ana: Just google for German carnival.

Zoe: No, I want pictures of Kate dressed in a funny costume.

Kate: That’s my normal outfit on a daily basis. Was this where your fox-man pictures came from, Ana?

Ana: Yes. And the candy.

Zoe: Germans know how to take the dreariness out of the end of winter.

Ana: Sometimes I wonder why we decided to have carnival at the end of winter, because for a lot of people, that requires dressing in very little clothing. Froze my ass off last year.

Zoe: Halloween always bugged me that way too. It’s not as bad as the end of winter, but it can get pretty nippy at the end of October.

Ana: It’s probably why there’s so much alcohol involved in carnival celebrations…

Kate: Antifreeze.

Zoe: Annnnnyway. I always try to do the thing Kate does, leaving off with more to do, but I can’t help myself. I always end up making where I ended for the day sound like something ended.

Ana: I get more satisfaction out of ending it when something ended.

Kate: I need something to look forward to. If I finish without some plan to work on the next day, the writing is like pulling teeth. I think I need to be primed. 😀

Zoe: Yeah, it’s the next day when I wish I’d done what Kate does. But the day before, I just can’t help myself. 🙁

Kate: It takes a fair bit of self-control, and I don’t always manage it.

Zoe: Maybe I should just end each day with “Dun dun DUN!” so I feel like something was about to happen anyhow.

Ana: I approve! Anyway, when I have to start a new scene/chapter whatever, I usually take about 5-10 minutes before I start to scribble my thoughts on it in my note pad. Loosens me up and gives me something to refer back to.

Kate: That’s a good idea, Ana.

Zoe: James Scott Bell recommends that in his latest book, doing five minutes or so of journaling before you start for the day, asking yourself questions about where your story’s going, what’s happening right now, etc.

Ana: What I do isn’t really structured. Just brainstorming. I first got it from that 2k to 10k book. I forgot the author’s name. Rachel something?

Kate: Rachel Aaron. I have to say, I DNF’d her fantasy novel. I really wanted to enjoy the book, because it was exactly the sort of thing I like to read, but I only got about three chapters in, and that was because I was living on hope.

Ana: I read the blog post first, which I think is actually enough. (Can be found here: I haven’t read her novels.

Zoe: I’ve only read her writing book, not her fiction. (And I’d forgotten she suggested brainstorming before writing…because something apparently only lodges in my head if James Scott Bell says it.)

Kate: I think Zoe has a crush…

Zoe: A writing-book crush. I’ve never read his fiction either.

Kate: I did like Weiland’s “End every chapter with a question” part. as in, you have to leave the reader wondering what’s going to happen next, pique their curiosity, or they stop reading.

Zoe: Overall, there really wasn’t a lot to this chapter (as readers of this discussion have probably surmised).

Kate: It was nice to have the different categories of questions. If a chapter feels flat, having that list to bounce ideas against might help you salvage it. I found that potentially useful. And the mention of using scene breaks, even if it only covers a short period of time, to avoid having to deal with dull parts.

Ana: As an easily bored writer and reader, I love me my scene breaks.

Zoe:: I’m trying to learn to use them more.

Kate: Me too.

I think that’s it for the chapter. Kind of…meh.

Zoe: So, on par with the rest of the book then. We’re going to have to start calling ourselves the Three Jaded Birds.

Ana: I think I’d prefer the Three Jade Birds.

Zoe: I had a jade egg once. It never hatched.

Kate: You need to burn it in a fire with the corpses of your husband and child.

Zoe: I don’t think my husband and child will get on board with that. But that explains why the egg eventually disappeared…

Ana: I know Zoe’s the horror writer, but sometimes Kate has ideas that scare me.

Zoe: It’s the extended winters. Her mind goes to a dark place.

Kate: Snow-madness.

About the author: Kate Lowell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Email address is required.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.