Outlining is my weakest point as an author, because outlining (like two people running across a cricket pitch, when only the runs for one will count as a score!) has always struck me as a waste of precious creative time. Weiland’s excellent book has gone a long way to changing my mind.
Well-set out, easy to read and meticulously researched, Weiland’s professional advice is touched with a natural, appropriate humour that makes learning from this text a pleasure.
While Weiland gives solid, practical advice on how to make an outline work for you, she is not prescriptive. There’s an emphasis on the importance of finding a way of outlining that enhances your own creative process, rather than exhorting the reader to slavishly follow one “right” way of outlining. The inclusion of interesting interviews with several published authors about their outlining process underlines the main point of this book: having an outline is vital for a well-structured book, but the shape an outline takes is up to each individual author.
Another useful part of the book was the check list at the end of each chapter (my favourite checkpoint is from Chap 11: “Kick the cat off the keyboard”!!! HRH Theodorable may object to that advice!)
Although there was much in the book that, as an experienced author, I’ve already learnt along the way, Weiland has organized her writing advice in such a clear, focused and informative manner that, by the end of the book, I had a stronger logical understanding of much that I had done unconsciously in my writing. As Weiland points out, the best novels are those that perfectly blend rational, logical techniques of writing with the intuitive, creative art of writing. After having read this book, I feel better equipped to at least aim for this sweet spot in writing my next novel.
I highly recommend this book to experienced authors. For new authors, I would suggest it is essential reading.