Getting the Benefits of NaNoWriMo Without Doing It

Do You Write in a Café?

Do You Outline?



I used to say I didn’t but realized I do. Just not the way people think.

I outline backwards.

Once a chapter is written, I write a brief synopsis. As the story gets longer, it’s a good way for me to keep track of characters and pivotal points.

When I start a new story, I don’t know how it will end. Mapping a trail sounds great to me—until my characters change in ways I can’t anticipate and then the rest of the map doesn’t work anyway.

Have I ever tried the usual way of outlining? Yes. And as soon as the outline was done, I realized I had no reason to write the story anymore because I knew what was going to happen. I was bored.

For me, one of the joys when I write is getting a new story. A story where I can be just as surprised at who is behind the pounding on that front door as the reader will be. If that makes no sense, I can’t help it, that’s how it is for me.

For me.

Two of the most important words in any nugget of advice. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s also great, you will use other tools. There’s no sense in forcing yourself to use a tip that doesn’t feel right. Take what you can use or experiment with and discard the rest.

Happy writing!




* Image courtesy of nuttakit at




  • Marie MacBryde • November 23, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Funny you should say that! I just did that to chapter 3 of my novel! And I intend to do that to all my chapters: after the fact. It’s a good way of keeping things straight. I also like writing not knowing how it’ll end. It’s like the writing leads you.

    • J. M. Levinton • November 23, 2015 at 1:47 am

      Nice to know I’m not the only one!

  • jan • November 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I don’t outline – though I probably should! I generally let my characters take me where they want to go. They seem so much smarter than me!

    • J. M. Levinton • November 23, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      In that case, you’re doing it right and probably shouldn’t. LOL

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