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April 01, 2012


Karen in Ohio

Carolyn, thank you for creating Annie and Max, however you do it! Love them fiercely. And I, in my dotage, aspire to inspire like Laurel. She's a lot to live up to!

I also suffer from a bit of outline envy. Clearly, it doesn't stop the process, so maybe I will lay that aside.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

I have such lovely photos for this blog but Typepad won't let me post them..sigh. But we're all about imagination, right?

I'm writing my current book without an outline. First time ever, an its a combination of terrible and wonderful. Sometimes I consider stopping the ms and doing an outline...But then, I don't. We shall see! Carolyn, you give me strength.

Marilyn aka cj petterson

I am SO into squiggles. Sometimes I type the squiggles into one document and print it out, only to squiggle all across the page until some are so convoluted, I'm unable to decipher my writing.

I did try an outline once but when I finished, it was as if I had written the story and had no need to write it again. (sigh)

Doesn't matter how you get your stories written, you do good!

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yes, Marilyn--that's what many writers say--after they do the outline, it feels old. But then--Jeffrey Deaver writes HUGE outlines...and then he says the book i so easy to write!

ann kloman

I feel so guilty if I don't outline so I try and the whole time my nagging muse is saying,"you know this is a waste of time." I have squiggles on scraps in folders, but my post reminds of this morning, on a tear in the market I read "ftyl" on my list with a star that means don't forget it!!! I spend a lot of time with squiggles in the course of a book.

lil Gluckstern

I don't know about your struggles until after I read about them, but I sure enjoy the outcome!

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yes, yes, Ann. that's exactly what mine says, too! "This is a waste of time!" I wonder if I'm right...

Hello, ear Lil! xoxo

Marilyn Levinson

I must confess I do outline. But that doesn't mean I always follow it.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yes, Marilyn, SO TRUE! I've done outline for four of my books. And the real book is always really different...

Warren Bull

Every time I try to outline a book I find it hard to get the energy to actually write it. I need a timeline but outlining is too much like actually writing.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Yup, Warren. I think...should I spend my time writing something that's NOT writing? OR writing something that IS writing?

Sigh. I hope I'm right..oxo

Liz M

I feel the same way about outliners -- and I also think, maybe this time I can do it. Guess I should just embrace who I am :)

And definitely Katniss....

Deb Romano

Well,my brilliant response has disappeared and I am way too exhausted to try to reconstruct it,so I will just say this:
Carolyn, it has been so good to see you here today! I am grateful to you for providing me with so many hours of reading pleasure. Outline...don't outline...I don't care which you pick! Just do NOT stop writing!

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Aw, Deb. SO sorry that it disappeared...but love you, and so happy to see you here. ANd whoa, I agree!

Laura DiSilverio

I am a recovering outliner. I outlined my first several manuscripts (unpublished) and then went the seat of my pants route for Swift Justice. I'm considering outlining the book in my head now, which has several points of view and a shifting timeline. The key, as Carolyn so wisely hints, is to do what we have to do for each book and rejoice in the process and the product without comparison to others.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Laura, so funny. Yeah...spending time wondering if one should do what some other people are doing..now that's a waste!

Liz M--so great to see you! (And would Katniss OUTLINE? I think not..hmmm...)


I'm a loose-to-moderate planner, but not an outliner. I'm also convinced there are as many ways to write a book as there are writers writing them. If it's working -- and it sure is for Carolyn! -- then I say don't change it.

Ally Cowee

Thanks Hank! And Carolyn, for sharing your process and your doubts :) I confess I straddle the line, working with a beat sheet but allowing the characters to move the scene forward or tweak it as they please. Sometimes those changes work, and sometimes they get thrown out in the editing.

Norma Huss

I'm so glad you write without outlining. I'm reading Ghost in Trouble, and I love the twists and turns you bring up anyway (or because?). Makes me feel much better about my writing system.

Hank Phillippi Ryan


Are there any nicer people in the world that fellow writers? I don't think so. Thank you each and every one for being so kind and generous.

I am thrilled that I have fellow non-outliners. That makes me feel so much better.

The truth about writing is that if we knew the secret potion, we'd bottle and sell it, but each book is a different challenge. Maybe that's what keeps us fresh.

God Bless to all - Love - Carolyn

Hank Phillippi Ryan

And the winner of Carolyn'sbook is: Ally Cowee!

ALly, send me your address at
h ryan at whdh dot com And I will ship it instantly.

And thank you so much, Carolyn, for joining us at the Femmes!

Charlaine Harris

I don't outline. I never have. Like you, Carolyn, I try and try. I think lack of a detailed outline has worked out pretty well for both of us.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

I just burst out laughing. Yes, indeed, Charlaine! xxo So there is hope...

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