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Jennifer St. Clair

I write all my novels like this as well! Sometimes I'm not sure what will happen on the next page. I think it's fun to write that way. :)

Zarina Docken

First of all, thank you for your kind words re: tossing my first manuscript.

I've written plays without an outline, but decided to "follow the rules" in writing my first novel (the rules dictated by the first novel-instruction book that I bought.) I followed that outline for my first draft and shredded it by the second. Now on my 6th draft, my plot has very little resemblance to that outline. Thank God.


I tried to write without an outline, but my first "novel" turned out to be about thirty pages long, and I had to spend many rewrites paying for my impetuousness. However, each to his own...


Wonderful post! I do believe that doing an outline is not the best way to develop a story for every writer. In Natalie Goldberg's book, Wild Mind, there's a whole chapter devoted to how different people learn. Some learn by doing while others learn by instruction. Natalie took that principle and related it to the writing process. Some write their best when doing an outline while others do their best by letting the story develop as they write. One way isn't better than the other. Many stories have been written successfully with or without an outline. It really depends on the author and which way works best for them. The hard part might be knowing which is the best way for each individual writer.

For me, trying to do an outline does more harm than good. It took me a long time to figure that out. It's great to be able to witness an author's journey. Thanks for sharing.

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Some of My Books

  • : The Fall of the Republic

    The Fall of the Republic
    In a parallel timeline, 1990s America discovers the chronoplanes: parallel worlds at different points in history.

  • : Rogue Emperor

    Rogue Emperor
    The hijacking of the Roman Empire, 100 AD, by 21st-century Christian fundamentalists, in the second of the Chronoplane Wars novels.

  • : The Empire of Time

    The Empire of Time
    My first novel, published in 1978, but the last in the Chronoplane Wars trilogy.

  • : Gryphon

    "Write a space opera," my editor said. So I did, with some nanotech thrown in.

  • : Tsunami

    A companion novel to Icequake, set mostly in California.

  • : Icequake

    A disaster thriller (Antarctic ice sheet surges into ocean), dated but still fun.

  • : Eyas

    Originally published in 1982, and still the novel I'm most proud of.

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