Saturday, November 2, 2013

# Guest Blog # NaNoWriMo

Quick and Dirty Outlining

In  honor of National Novel Writing Month, I'll be running a series of posts featuring tips on writing craft and NaNoWriMo strategies straight from the mouths of fellow authors and NaNo participants.

Quick and Dirty Outlining
with M. S. Kaye
Some writers spend almost as much time outlining as they do writing the book, and some step onto the blank page naked, with no plan of attack. I’ve found the best method to be somewhere in between. If I know where I’m going, I stay on track, and if I don’t constrict myself with anal-retentive planning, I have the freedom to explore interesting possibilities as they naturally arise.
Here’s my quick and dirty outlining method:
  1. Find that spark about the story idea that you fall in love with. Use it to build your story; this is the best way to maintain your passion as you immerse yourself in the writing process.
  2. Take a few minutes to free-write. Jot down anything that comes to your mind about the story or characters: possible plot points, scenes, story structure…
  3. Decide on your main characters. Write down their strongest character traits, basic physical features, and background as it pertains to the story. Stick with just the basics; you’ll develop the rest as the story progresses.
  4. Write out your chapter summaries. Refer to your free-writing notes, and use one loose piece of paper per chapter (you can use your computer if you prefer, but I like to be able to lay them out to more clearly see the story progression). Use loose paper, not a notebook; you’ll need to be able to move or insert pages.

You’ll have some scenes clearly laid out in your head but not others. That’s okay. Write out specifics where you have them and only generalities where you don’t. One chapter may be fully realized, and the next might say, “Bertha gets into some kind of trouble with her mother. (develop tension and hint at why their relationship is strained).”
Your earlier chapters will most likely be clearer. Don’t worry about the later chapters yet; just have a basic idea of where you’re going so you don’t get lost along the way. Once every chapter or so, take a look at your chapter pages and see if you can add anything. As you build the plot and characters, the story will unfold for you.
Writing is both a structured and chaotic endeavor. As creative people, we have to allow a certain amount of chaos, but that chaos shouldn’t be evident in the final product.
Please take a look at my novel Fight Princess—which was written using the above outlining method.
Fight Princess
M. S. Kaye
Things aren’t what they seem. Don’t get involved.
Celisse is too headstrong to listen. Her best friend’s boyfriend is dead, and she does not heed Cullen’s warning, slipped to her in a note as he’s being arrested for the murder.
Cullen tries to keep Celisse out of danger and also tries to avoid her, both unsuccessfully. He can’t deny his feelings for her anymore, but he knows he can’t have her. If she ever discovered the truth about his past, she’d surely hate him.
While struggling with her intense feelings for Cullen, Celisse uses her skills as an ex-prosecutor to investigate, all while continuing to fight for Ogden, the organizer of an underground fight ring. She eventually realizes things are connected—the ring, Ogden, Cullen, the murder, and herself. She races to uncover the truth before she’s arrested or becomes the next victim—or perhaps, the next culprit.
Purchase at:
Amazon -
iBooks -
Barnes & Noble -
Liquid Silver Books (publisher – all formats) -
Author Bio
M. S. Kaye is a 4th degree black belt and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. A transplant from Ohio, she resides with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, FL, where she does her best not to melt in the sun.
Her romantic suspense novel Fight Princess is currently available, and Once, an inspirational romance, is under contract and will be released in the coming months. She is a multiple Royal Palm Literary Award winner and has published several pieces in literary magazines.
Editing services are now available on her website. Mention this article to receive a free page of full editing.
Contact M. S. Kaye at:
Twitter: @mskosciuszko


  1. I love these ideas! Thank you for stopping by to share them during my NaNo event!

  2. Thank you for having me! This was fun!

  3. great advice. I love to pants my stories but a general idea of the path is good too. My NaNo story this year is one that I know about the first four chapters but then….. LOL

    1. Pantsing is a whole lot of fun, but more often the past couple years I've been doing some plotting. Hopefully by the time you get to chapter four you'll know good and well what comes after!


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