A Writer’s Journey, Part 1: The Outline

Today, I’m pleased to introduce Kaitlyn Bolland, a talented author I’m mentoring as she works on her first full-length manuscript.

Kaitlyn will be guest blogging here on a regular basis in the months to come, chronicling her experiences and answering some interview questions about her writing process. She’s also attending the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Conference in September (her first writers’ conference) and she’ll be blogging here about that also. Kaitlyn is a friend as well as a fellow writer, and I’m delighted to be a part of her writing journey.

Today, I’ve interviewed her about outlining, since she recently completed that phase of her manuscript.

And so, with no further ado, here’s Kaitlyn: 

K Bolland Headshot

How did writing an outline change the way you view your story?

Before I had an outline, my story was just a vague idea. But with the outline, my story has changed from a passive idea, or wish, to an active plan… blueprints… it’s actually happening now!

Will the outline will make it easier for you to write, and to finish, the first draft of your manuscript? Why?

Yes, definitely! Now with the outline I have a guide, or skeleton, if you will, and all I have to do is flesh it out. It’s like a road map. Now that I have it, all I have to do is drive there. It surely doesn’t take the work out of packing the car and actually driving there, (and there might be detours that I take; and the road might look a little different when I get there; and direction sometimes changes even when you have a plan) but without a road map to begin with, I’d be completely overwhelmed and floundering.

What did you find most difficult about writing an outline for your novel?

I think the most difficult part was that, in essence, I had to write my whole story! Although an outline is by no means as detailed as the finished product, I had to write a semi-detailed version of my story from start to finish. I had to come up with a fairly complete set of plot ideas and I had to know my characters pretty well. Despite the fact that I didn’t know where I was going to begin with, I had to figure it out and that was hard.

What was the best or most surprising part of the process?

The best part is that through the creation of the outline, I’ve come to know where my story is going, what I want to say, and what the story really means. It unveiled itself through my act of writing the outline. The most interesting part is how freeing an outline can be! I used to view an outline as just extra work, but it truly is remarkable how much of a relief it is to have such an excellent guide.

What was the most interesting thing, to you, about learning to write an outline?

It’s really interesting how, with an outline, the story and its characters come to life! The story is now much more real and vivid.

Kaitlyn Bolland is a high school sophomore with a lifelong love of stories. Her hobbies include writing, backpacking, and photography. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cockatiels, a dog and a coop full of chickens.

One thought on “A Writer’s Journey, Part 1: The Outline

  • May 8, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Good for you for tackling the outline process early on, Kaitlyn. i usually end up writing my outline when I’m about half done with the first draft in order to straighten out my timeline. Doing the outline in advance is the better choice, even if you deviate from the plan later on.

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