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Libbie Hawker, who posts here as ElHawk, has a great new writing book out that I highly recommend, Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. I've written a gazillion books by now, and one would think that I've either learned all of the applicable lessons or I'm simply incapable of picking them up. But I definitely snagged some useful tips, and if you're a newer writer, this book is gold. Cheap gold, too! $2.99 as of this post.
 

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Purchased and cracked open already. I literally just read K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel a couple weeks ago and found it disappointing. I'm optimistic about Libbie's book after reading the Look Inside, though. (At the very least, she's gotten me excited to find out what else she has to say.)
 

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Thank you for the link! I've heard Libbie talk about her outlining process in podcast interviews. It's nice to have it in a book I could easily refer back to.

 

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ElHawk's blurb advise video was so spot-on, how can one resist such a suggestion as her title. I am lost and blocked with pantsing a part two of series. I hope Libbie's system is the direction I need. I just bought her book, (thanks Michael) am now shutting down the Kboards, and hoping to find my way to begin writing again.
 

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Thanks for the recco, Michael. I picked it up this morning and finished it a few minutes ago. Classic advice with a fresh new perspective. I emailed Libbie to tell her that I had to take a break mid-read to jot down some notes on my WIP because her advice got me thinking about a couple fresh angles on characters and linking the protag to the antag and also on beefing up the 'cymbal crashes'. Great stuff for a few bucks.
 

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I picked this up a few days ago, but have been too busy to crack it open. Thanks for the rec. I'll check it out tonight.
 

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Thanks, guys! I'm really glad you've enjoyed the book so far. And super-happy so many of you are finding it useful.

I'll continue to work on these short how-to books for authors until I've exhausted all my useful information (which should be soon, ha ha.) For interested parties, the next one will be How to Write Historical Fiction that Sells, which tells my methods for analyzing the current HF market, picking subjects likely to do well with audiences, and the insights I've cobbled together about what HF readers are *really* after. I expect it to be out in...oh, probably early June.
 

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What I found interesting about this book, Libbie, is that it can be used as little or as much as one wants. Your system works in such a way that a pantser can still use it. They might not do the chapter parts that you talk about at the end, but they can 100% use the initial 5 step (if I recall) summary. Even that provides a bit of overall focus to help pantsing go faster and smoother.
 

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Thanks Michael for posting this information. I already found the book useful!  Thanks ElHawk for sharing this useful technique!! I just never know what new information I'll learn when I stalk this board!! Amazing.
 

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Krista D. Ball said:
What I found interesting about this book, Libbie, is that it can be used as little or as much as one wants. Your system works in such a way that a pantser can still use it. They might not do the chapter parts that you talk about at the end, but they can 100% use the initial 5 step (if I recall) summary. Even that provides a bit of overall focus to help pantsing go faster and smoother.
Yes -- there are definitely parts where you can adapt it to be pants-friendly. When I feel like pantsing, I leave out the "beat" portion of the outline and just use the steps that come before as a very rough guide, and let my brain go crazy to fill in all the blanks.
 

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ElHawk said:
Yes -- there are definitely parts where you can adapt it to be pants-friendly. When I feel like pantsing, I leave out the "beat" portion of the outline and just use the steps that come before as a very rough guide, and let my brain go crazy to fill in all the blanks.
It makes for a multi-purpose book, which I really like.
 

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Carol (was Dara) said:
Will check it out. I'm always interested in ways to outline more effectively.
I am writing a short story as a bonus at the end of a novel coming out this year, so I tried the first part of Libbie's book. I just did the first 5 step stage (character, goal, etc) and then trimmed her brainstorm outline to just a couple of things. It took 20 minutes - I spend more time thinking about how best to trim her outline for a short story than actually brainstorming the short story - and I have a solid outline for a 5000 words short story that I can now bang out in a day when I have the time.

Like, it's soooooo versatile. I'm in love.
 
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