Review: Outlining Your Novel

I’m really excited to invite K.M. Weiland to my blog today. I have a review of her book, Outlining Your Novel, as well as an interview.



I got this book for a birthday or Christmas present last year and finally got around to reading it. Now I wish I had read it sooner. It helped me tremendously. As I read the book, I did the checklist at the end of each chapter for the novella I planned to write in November. Originally, I thought it would take me the whole month to write the book, but because of the steps I took using the tips in this book, I wrote all 23,183 words in just 17 days.

Clarity: 1/1

K.M. Weiland definitely has a way of putting things that is helpful, clear, and witty. The way she wrote these tips using both good and bad examples from her own experience was exactly what I needed.

Usability: 1/1

I basically already answered this question in my intro, but I’ll continue the story. A few weeks after finishing this book and writing my novella, I decided I needed a little help in a novel I’d already started, so I went through the books and looked at my underlines and the checklists at the end of the chapters. I now have a new plot twist in the book and a plan for the ending—the part I had lacked before.

Readability: 1/1

I have the paperback version of this book, so I’m can’t vouch for the Kindle version, but the book was set up in such a way that it was easy to underline things I wanted to be able to easily find, write in the margins, or just plain read. The font size was perfect and the formatting easy to maneuver.

Overall writing quality: 1/1

Par excellence. I don’t think I really need to say more than that.

Un-put-down-ability: 1/1

The only times I put down the book were to follow her instructions or checklist, or to do something I had to do because unfortunately, the family needs laundry done, food to eat, and I really shouldn’t ignore everybody for too long.

Conclusion: 5/5

If you are a writer, author, or aspiring author, you should read this book. I would have considered myself somewhere between a pantser and planner, but now I’m leaning a little more heavily toward the planner spectrum. Even if you are a pantser, you should still read this book. There are character development tips in here that were invaluable to creating some of the most 3D characters I have ever written.

And now on to the interview!


Good morning and welcome to the Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections blog! I’m excited to have you here and hope you have some fun with these questions. Since this blog is about and for writers, most of the questions will be about writing with a few optional, fun questions at the end.

  1. What is your writing process? Do you outline before you start?

Oh, an outliner, definitely. My writing flows much easier when I have a roadmap to follow. I need to know where I’m headed if I’m going to reach my destination. My outlining process has evolved into a pretty time-intensive routine that usually takes about six months.

I do all my outlining longhand in a notebook, simply because something about my sloppy handwriting seems to free my creativity. I start out by jotting down what I already know about my story (which has typically been kicking around in my head for a couple years already) and then asking myself “what if” questions to fill in the blanks.

Then I progress to character sketches, using a list of “interview questions” I’ve collected over the years. (Anyone interested in the interview sheet can find it in my free ebook Crafting Unforgettable Characters.) Then I progress to a lengthy, plot-point-by-plot-point outline. Once that’s done, I organize it using the amazing writing software Scrivener—and move on to researching.

  1. I just realized that first question was probably a silly one to ask someone when reviewing their book about outlining. Oh well! Onward and upward. How do you develop your characters? Do you use images found online, a Pinterest board, character sketches, or develop them as you write?

All of the above! I never consciously create characters based on people I know. Most of the time, they just appear in my head, fully formed. It’s my interest in exploring who they are that prompts me to create stories for them. Often, I’ll like a character in a book or movie, but feel he could have been used to better effect, so I’ll start dreaming up a better story for him—and then my imagination just runs wild on me.

  1. What is your best advice for getting rid of writer’s block?

I like to say I don’t believe in writer’s block—but that is, of course, a bit disingenuous. We all get blocked—either on small plot problems from day to day or majorly when burnout hits. The trick is not making a monster of it. It’s just a mental (and sometimes emotional) challenge to be worked through.

I’ve never experienced long-term writer’s block. I get burned out occasionally, but I take those times as opportunities to take a break and pamper my brain. It’s all part of the cycle of inspiration.

  1. If you could share one piece of advice that you wish someone else had told you to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Don’t write unless you have to; writing isn’t worth it unless it’s an undeniable passion. But if you’re blessed enough to suffer that passion, embrace it wholeheartedly. Read like crazy; write like crazy. Don’t be afraid to take risks; don’t be afraid to break the rules—once you know them. And, especially in the uncertain days of publishing in which we live, don’t allow your worth as a writer to be defined by whether or not you’ve been traditionally published. If your words never touch more than a single life, you can still count yourself a successful writer.

  1. What is your favorite genre?

It’s hard to pick a favorite. I love good books, period, doesn’t matter what the genre is. But I tend to gravitate to historical and fantasy, with a liberal smattering of literary.

Fun  questions:

Pizza or Pasta? I have to choose?! Gosh, I’m gonna go with pasta just because it’s slightly healthier.

Favorite movie? The Great Escape

Favorite Bible verse? Psalm 19:14

Coffee, tea, or water? I love water. I drink it like a horse! But, of course, coffee is way more fun.

Favorite movie adaptation? Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. It’s an utterly brilliant ode to the entire Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian.

k-m-weilandK.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.




4 thoughts on “Review: Outlining Your Novel

  1. Thanks so much for having me today, Faith!

  2. […] Quote by K. M. Weiland (author of Outlining Your Novel) from a Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections blog-interview facilitated by Faith Blum. Posted on […]

  3. […] I got this book for a birthday or Christmas present 2016 and finally got around to reading it in October 2017. Now I wish I had read it sooner. It helped me tremendously. As I read the book, I did the checklist at the end of each chapter for the novella I planned to write in November 2017. Originally, I thought it would take me the whole month to write the novella, but because of the steps I took using the tips in this book, I wrote all 23,183 words in just 17 days! (Read the full review and interview with the author here). […]

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