How much detail is in your outlines? Do you outline? Can you write scenes out of order?

I outline.


I also have to write from beginning to end. There are a few reasons for this.

First, my outlines are intentionally sketchy. Too much detail and I’ve devolved to writing. I keep them down to a few hundred words about each chapter.

Second, and perhaps more important, I leave myself space for inspiration and correction. The outline is not the product of some omniscient vision. It’s a direction things need to go, and important points that need to be visited along the way. Some of which will be chopped and replaced.

Which leads to today’s problem.

Opening sentences don’t really get written first. In the long view of the writing process, the opening is written last.


I write sequentially. So it’s also written first. And then rewritten a few dozen times. Often, a query rejection will lead to rework. The standardized “didn’t resonate with me” responses either mean the pitch wasn’t compelling, or the opening page still doesn’t work. So I revisit the opening.

In today’s case, the opening of book III forced me to review Book I and II. And do some rework on book II’s opening chapters.

I thought I was ready to leap.

Then I wasn’t.

Now I am.


Something that had been rattling around in my head — but never made it into the outline — surfaced trying to get an opening sentence down into the manuscript. I guess it’s a good thing to be revising the outline before getting beyond word 100.

This is the way the writing is supposed to go. Capture a scene, revisit the outline. Capture another scene, adjust the overview.

How is your holiday season?