Outline Now. Thank Me Later.

Do you have an awesome idea that you would love to see turned into a book? Problem is you don’t know the first thing about the writing process? Having just released my third title, Love, Lies & Consequences (The Fast Life Sequel), I have met a lot of people who have expressed a similar interest in writing, but they don’t know where to start – or most importantly, how to start.

Let me first say, that while it can be easy to start book, it can be extremely hard to finish it – whether reading it or writing it. That’s the main reason why I recommend starting small – especially if you haven’t written before. If you’re the type of student to freak out over a five-page term paper due at the end of the week, then I can understand why the idea of sitting down and completing a whole book can be overwhelming. Even I started off writing short stories and poems before I graduated to full-length novels. I mean, everyone had training-wheels at some point right?

The good thing is you already have the freedom to create. The question now is what are you going to do with it? Living in a society that feeds off instant gratification, it can be hard to accept that no matter how fast you type, you won’t produce a best-seller overnight. It will take time. It will take discipline. Some days, it will test your patience, and maybe even your sanity. Trust me. I speak from experience.

But, for those of you brave enough to take this challenge head-on, the reason why I say to write an outline first is because before you plant yourself in front of the computer for hours on end, you’ll want to organize your thoughts, and an outline is the perfect chance to do that. I mean, think about it. You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime! You wouldn’t set out on a trip like that without a road map would you? Exactly! Leave home without your “map”, and you’re bound to make a wrong turn somewhere.

Lucky for you, you won’t have to make that trip all by yourself. Outlines are the perfect opportunity to get to know your characters. In addition to listing their names, what they look like, their age, where they are from, etc., it allows you to shape their personality. This is also where you decide on the setting, and/or point in time in which the story is written. Once you have a better sense of who your characters are, it will make it easier to plot the book out chapter by chapter.

Now, don’t worry if you get all the way up to chapter four and you don’t know what it going to happen next. Don’t worry if you don’t know how it ends. You’re not there yet. Ask any author and they will tell you that as the story develops, gaps will fill themselves in. Plans will change and that’s okay. Just because it is in the outline doesn’t mean it is set in stone. Let your characters lead you, and you’re in for one hell of an adventure.

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