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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Twenty-Nine

Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story

How to Go from Premise to Completed Draft

K.M. Weiland

Mention the word outline in a room full of writers, and you’re sure to ignite a firestorm of passionate debate. Writers either love outlines, or they hate them. We either find them liberating, or we can’t stand how confining they are.

My experience has been that more often than not, those who swear they dislike outlines are thinking of them in the wrong ways. Outlines are not meant to trap you into preset ideas or sap your creativity before you start the first draft. Outlines are also definitely not meant to be lifeless Roman-numeral lists.

To imbue your writing with the full power of outlining, you need to approach the process ...

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