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Potholes On the Newbie Writing Highway

If someone’s suggestion of fixing your ‘comma splicing problem’ has you running to your doctor’s office or you just haven’t figured out why writers refer to adverbs as ‘the modifiers that must not be named’ (pitchforks and torches, anyone?), then you’re sitting exactly where I was six months ago.

Got an awesome plot for a story? Great! Have a knack for writing witty dialogue? Fantastic! Guess what? There’s tons more to it. The cold, hard truth is that writing a novel is work and I’m nowhere close to being done.

As a self-proclaimed ‘newbie’, I’m fully prepared to divulge all the embarrassing, disheartening, and hopefully successful moments that being a newbie in the writing world entails. Let’s start at the beginning. Because Maria sang it right guys; it’s a very good place to start.

One large part of writing that I’ve stubbornly battled against is Outlining. I am a reckless, fly by the seat of my pants writer, meaning I use no formal outline. (I also mix my whites with my colors. Oh, yeah. I’m that wild.) And to date I have refused to do more than a simple paragraph or two of summary.

I do not recommend this method-at least not for fellow newbies. My current WIP has been rewritten three times…so far. I love my characters, my story, and my resolution for them all. But each time I get to the halfway point, I find a gaping hole that nothing short of reworking the majority of the story would fix. Does this mean all hope is lost? Nope. With the help of some more experienced writers I’ve been directed to a few sites that showcase different ways to tackle the outlining process:

Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method – A ten step process that uses layers to build your story from conception to completion.

Holly Lisle’s Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course – (Thanks Michelle!) – You have to sign up to receive the PDF file by email. But it’s free, and if the course is anywhere near as amazing as the other stuff I’ve checked out on her page, it will be well worth the read!

Newbie slang word for the day: WIP- Work in Progress- as in the epic soon-to-be New York Times Bestseller you’re working away at.

Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. Love the picture!

    Great post. My problem with outlining is the opposite- I outline, research, outline some more...basically everything but sit down and write the stupid thing! (Maybe the next slang word for the day could be the BIC method!)

  2. The picture is awesome. I particularly like the page that says 'WTF' across the top. And the one with the giant X over it, because I've actually done that before!

    I used to not outline, and it was such a disaster. My first draft is much prettier this WIP with my lovely outline (even if the poor outline got changed about 50 billion times).

    *Joins you in newbieville*

  3. Michelle, BIC is on the list! lol You don't even want to hear the different things I thought that one meant lol

    Kaitlin, Woohoo! Confusion loves company! I'd say misery, but to be honest, I'm having waaay to much fun with it all lol

  4. Such a great photo - cracks me up everytime I look at it. But it's true! That's why I don't print out my manuscripts anymore, lol! The links are excellent, too. And I have to admit that I'm not an outliner *dodges tomatoes*. I usually start with a few sentences of ideas that tell me what the story is going to be and then proceed to ignore most of those points because my characters are stubborn. Go figure. Love the post!

  5. Yeah...Sadly that is my little baby marked up and strewn across the table. For some reason, reading on paper makes it easier for me to be objective. But I've promised myself I won't print it again until it's finished. The trees of the world will thank me. So will the poor guys that pick up the 'paper' recycling bins lol

  6. Seems like you're on the right road for outlining skills...outlines don't have to slow you down...if you invest in them, I think they actually ended up speeding up the process.

    Good Luck!

  7. Thanks, Anita! When I first started this crazy process, I didn't want to 'waste' time outlining. I wanted to write!! But you're right. I can already see my WIP taking a more clean and definite shape as I outline it.

  8. lol! My first novel, I meandered through 100k words, then, when I realized I'd be cutting the first 60k, I decided I'd never write another thing without outlining at least somewhat.

    Good luck.

  9. 60k?! Fred, I think I would have cried! I definitely have cut entire chapters since pulling an outline together. It's sad because they had some of my favorite scenes, but at the end of the day, they weren't necessary for the reader, just for me. Was the 60k unnecessary backstory?


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Item Reviewed: Potholes On the Newbie Writing Highway Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah