Craft Book Review: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Updated: Mar 2


Type the words “books about writing” into the Amazon search tool and hundreds of books will pop up. Buyer beware however; all books on the craft of writing are not created equal. Some are rehashes of the same information that has been passed around for years, others are littered with bad information or with platitudes that sound nice but offer no practical applications.

Ask your favorite writers group what the best craft book is and you will likely get an overwhelming list of books with a few titles suggested more than others. Stephen King's much lauded book, On Writing, that serves as part lesson book and part biography, is popular among writers. Another name you’re likely to see listed several times is K.M. Weiland. An accomplished author and successful business woman, she has published nine historical and speculative fiction novels and is well known in writing circles for her series of nonfiction books about the craft of writing.

Recently, I read her book Outlining Your Novel - Map Your Way to Success, and it forever changed the way I approach outlining and planning. Her concepts are presented in an easy to read and understand style that makes them approachable to everyone. She easily connects the concepts in her book with practical tips and tools to implement them in your writing. Some writing books spend too much time on theory, motivational quotes or purple prose. Weiland manages to stick to the topic at hand without ever becoming boring by using precise language and focusing on only one aspect of the craft in each book. The wisdom she imparts is well worth the cost of the book.

"Right now, you're slitting the packing tape and opening the box that holds your story. You'll be discovering the beautiful and disparate parts inside that box and learning how they fit together." -- K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel contains great practical tips like using calendars to keep track of your timeline. There are also simple questions meant to invoke your muse and get you thinking about your novel in a new way. This quick read will show you how to create an outline that is flexible and doesn’t restrict the creative flow.

Weiland has also created a companion workbook to take you from idea to completed outline. The book and workbook contain the same information with a different format. Looking back, I could have purchased just the workbook and not the paperback. However, the book is so helpful that I am happy to have it in my library for referencing later. I will be using this book for years to come.

Rachel Kolodziej enjoys writing in different genres although her favorites are horror and anything with supernatural characters. She led The Red Herrings to victory for two years in the Writer’s Workout Team Games and hopes to emerge victorious from the Individual Games as well. You can follow her on Twitter @RachelsWorldx2.


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