To Outline or Not to Outline

Posted April 14, 2013 by Victoria in 2013-Reviews, Contemporary/Historical Romance, My 5-star reads, Silver Fire / 0 Comments

Spring blooms
Spring blooms

It’s the middle of April and spring is in full swing! How is your writing? For me, I’ve written five action-filled chapters of Silver Fire and I am taking a step back. I’m taking a break before I take a look at what I’ve written so far, and let me tell you it’s hard because I left it at a cliffhanger and I just want to jump back into it.

I’m trying to follow James Scott Bell‘s suggestion of taking the 20,000 word step back, although in my case, it’s more like 24,000 because I could not stop writing. Stop. Take a break of a day or a week and then get back into your story.

Which brings me to a question for writers out there: are you an outline or no-outline writer?

For me, I guess since my novels are romance-thrillers, the technical side of the plot needs to be fleshed-out. I  know what the conflict is and how it has to be resolved, but I need information to support its plausibility. Like in my second book, I needed to research nuclear reactors, nuclear fission, isotope enrichment and all that stuff  because they are an inherent part of the plot. Not necessarily for me to dump technical terms on the reader, but for me to understand the process so that my character reads convincingly.

The critical action scenes are outlined but the romance is organic and I just love how both   action and romance naturally intertwine together. When some scenes seem forced, I take a step back also and analyze what is missing—usually it’s a backstory. Why did a character do that? What was his/her motivations?  And then sometimes it’s not what’s missing but what shouldn’t be there. I’ve carefully constructed paragraphs only to delete them because they impede the flow of the story.

There are three things to consider in a novel. Your beginning should draw the reader in, the middle should maintain their interest and the ending should be satisfying. Outlines do help prevent that sagging middle—I hate filler chapters. I prefer to read a shorter book than a full-length one where I am forced to skim pages.

So while I’m giving myself a 1-week step back, I’m trying to read other books, but I think I’ve exhausted my list of books to read. I’ve already gone through Walking Disaster, Fever and Own the Wind.

Some of my great reads since I’ve listed my favorites {there are spoilers}:

Beauty from Pain
Beauty from Pain

Beauty from Pain ~ Georgia Cates ~ I love that we get both point of views here: Laurelyn and Jack. The premise is similar to other novels of this genre, billionaire guy wants short-term relationship with pretty girl. The added kicker here is they agree to remain anonymous, at least they tried to be. But being anonymous billionaire is hard to maintain. Laurelyn, though, never gave her last name so when they finally part ways and Jack realizes he loves her, he had no way of finding her.

Grr… I hate cliffhangers, anyway, Beauty from Surrender should be coming out soon and I can’t wait!


Flat-Out-Matt ~ Jessica Park ~ Can I say I freaking loved this companion book to Flat-Out-Love (as a companion book you have to read the first novel for this one to make sense). This is one hot geek, I am calling Matt Watkins my Alpha geek. He is so darn smart, and so self-deprecating, it’s cute. But don’t let all that geekiness fool you …

…considering Matt took everything to an outrageously academic level, there was an extremely good chance that he’d extensively researched the female anatomy and become some sort of expert on the subject

What a guy. 😉

If you have OD’d on New Adult, Young Adult and the Billionaire Controlling Alpha male or Tattooed rock star or biker bad boy, here is something refreshing:

Office Affair
Office Affair

Office Affair ~ Jesse Dee ~ I saw this book recommended on RTbookreview and I normally don’t read books simply classified as erotica because I don’t want to read pages and pages of sex scenes, but this was different. Both characters are career-driven investment bankers—Mel more than Ben. Ben was still reeling from his breakup with his ex-fiancee, so Mel offers him a just-sex relationship, he balks at first but later gives in— in a spectacular way. 😉 Well, Ben wanted more after that first encounter. We get both POVs and it worked very well in this novel. I normally skim overly descriptive sex scenes, but the ones in here were very steamy and well-written, and then add to that tones of voyeurism and then a menagé which I thought was going to be a deal breaker for me but because I was able to read the motivations of Ben that led to this, I was okay with it.In fact it was so hot and the third person, Will, was off-the-charts sexy, I was more than okay with it and wouldn’t change a thing in this story. How the author handled the aftermath of that made for a very satisfying ending.


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