To Outline or to not Outline, That is the Question

I just returned from a “traveling light” vacation with my wife, which meant no laptop. No laptop meant no writing, which was a good thing. It forced me into some serious thinking about “my next science fiction novel.”

One decision made was a working title, as “my next science fiction novel” is a bit wordy. I’ve decided on Mindfield. Many thanks to our friend Pam for suggesting it. (Pam is the daughter of Krin, the namesake of the empathetic co-protagonist of my Truth-Teller books.)

I’m excited about Mindfield’s concept and storyline. If the written product is anything like what’s in my head right now, I should have a winner.

I want to write this novel more efficiently. Some authors might sneer at that concept. I’ll agree a purely character driven novel probably can’t be written efficiently. On the other hand, I believe most successful authors of plot driven book thrillers do a detailed outline. Most novels lie somewhere in between these two extremes. Mindfield will have a strong protagonist, who’ll experience serious change during the course of the book, but it will also have a twisty-turny plot.

I’ve always done a rough outline, followed by a first draft. That was fun, but then things got messy. I’d add or delete characters. I’d change plot points. These resulted in tedious rewrites that took time and weren’t fun. All those changes made it easy for me to miss the renaming of a city or a character. That meant more typos to catch, and I hate typos.

I believe that having a more detailed outline should produce a better result with less angst and effort. That outline includes decisions on point of view, characters, protagonist and antagonist, and story arc. I’ll be sharing these over the next few weeks.


Filed under Art and Craft of Writing

2 responses to “To Outline or to not Outline, That is the Question

  1. MJ

    Just wanted to say that your thriller novel looked promising, as did your sci-fi novels! I just want to throw an idea your way, why not link the novels so that they are all visible on the same site? That maximizes ease for your future fans to try one series if they like the other, even if they are different genres :). My other thought would be, why not price the first book in your truth teller series at the 2.99 price point, or kindle unlimited even? That itself might draw in people to try your first story, and if they like it, of course they may jump into the second in the series. Also, very important, the more reviews your book has, the more legitimacy it gives new prospective readers and the more comfortable they will feel with the prospect of investing in your work! Even if intellectually we know the quality of ones work has nothing to do with the number of reviews, its still a visceral deterrent that effects even me, well aware that so much of it is purely psychological! And yes, it is a vicious catch-22 if you have the greatest book in the world, no one reads it and reviews it, so no one else is comfortable taking a chance on it! Hence the advantage of Kindle Unlimited etc. – Anyway, here’s to a fruitful career as an author for you! – MJ

    • Thanks for your thoughtful suggestions.
      Actually, all my books are listed under MY BOOKS on my blog. I have used variations of my author name to differentiate what genre I am writing in, like Iain Banks.
      Champagne Press published my two Truth-Teller books and they have sole control over their pricing. So while I agree with you, it is out of my control.
      I love reviews. I covet reviews. I have experimented with promotional pricing of Download and it has boosted sales. The present offering of it for free is producing some action. Hopefully some of these readers will also review it. I enjoy the control and flexibility of Kindle Unlimited.
      Best wishes with your own career in writing.

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