To Outline or Not to Outline, Part 5

The wonderful Jessica Lee Anderson is my guest today in my To Outline or Not to Outline blog debate. Jessica has written five books, two nonfiction (What Is A Living Thing? and Presidential Pets) and two novels for teens (Border Crossing and Trudy). Her newest teen novel, Calli, arrives in September. Like, P.J. Hoover, Jessica also is a member of the author group The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels.

For more in the outlining debate, check out my process, then nonfiction Donna Janell Bowman and novelist Nikki Loftin. Coming tomorrow is Bethany Hegedus.

Jessica Lee AndersonNow, here’s Jessica:

How do you start a new book?

For me, a new book usually starts with a concept or a character voice that captures me by surprise. From there, I usually try to get to know the protagonist and what he or she is looking for/wants. I often have to do quite a bit of free writing whenever I start a new book.

Do you outline or write more by the seat of your pants?

I’ve done both! For my new novel-in-progress, I’ve spent much more time working on an outline since writing by the seat of my pants has led me to needing to write quite a few drafts. My outline is loose enough that it allows for some seat of the pant moments, though.

Did your process evolve, and/or how did you come up with your process?

While I’ve become a believer in outlining, my process has been different for every novel I’ve worked on. With my first novel, I knew how the book was going to end before I knew much about the middle or even the beginning. With subsequent novels, I’ve either started at the beginning or in the middle. Each book is a journey in every way imaginable!

So true! Thanks, Jessica.

Is your process similar? Let us know in the comments.


What do you think?