How to Write Your Book Outline in Just a Few Minutes

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500_F_63093124_NUetPLgt4cJ5BPAyjI9tIy8SyJrHw8b9Are you ready to write your Best Seller but are unsure where to start? Are you spending more time day-dreaming about being a guest on Oprah than you are writing? While the day dreaming will certainly get you far by projecting your desires into the universe, the saying goes: writers write. This means that as long as no words go on the page, your possibilities of making your dreams become reality are nil.

Why aren’t you writing more? Why does what you write not come out the way you imagined? The answer to these questions may surprise you. The answer is that you don’t have the right tool for the job.

What is the right tool? Assuming that your writing skills are fair to fantastic, the tool your looking for is called an outline. Every successful writer uses one. Embrace the use of outlines for all your projects. All prolific Writers know that you need a road map to go somewhere you’ve never been before, unless of course you want to get lost.

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Certainly, if you had a uncomplicated outline you’d be doing more writing than dreaming. With these easy step by step directions,  you will have your complete book outline in place in just  a few minutes.

Step 1

First, Lets break it down. Lets say, for the sake of this article, that the average book is 200 pages in length. This translates to 20 Chapters, at an average rate of 10 pages per Chapter. Can you see where I’m going with this? Before you start writing chapter headings, move on to Step 2.

Step 2

Now, make a list of 2O main Subjects you want to discuss in your book. Use no more than 3 Words for each Subject.
Such as: 4. When Cats Bite.

This will be what each Chapter is about. You can worry about impressive titles and names later.

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Now, next to this, make another list of the 5-10 important things (list single words only please) that you want to mention about each Subject/Chapter.

Such as, Chapter 4: When Children Bite

b. Breed
d. Trauma
e. Emotions

Step 4

Next, switch this list of important things around in order of importance. Put the best stuff that you are most passionate about first, the not so great stuff in the middle and the medium-good stuff last.

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This goes for the entire 20 Chapters of your book too, take a moment now to resort the overall flow of Chapters into this Best, Not the Best, Good order as well. This will get your readers hooked from the first page enough to coast through the middle and keep reading when they find it picking up 2/3 through the book.

Step 6

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 2.05.27 PMVoila! Your outline is done and there is nothing standing in your way from writing that book. You have a complete and clear outline to make it happen. You now know fully well what goes on each page from beginning to end. Do this for all your books from now on. Do not try to write your book without finishing the outline first; it will only frustrate you more and put more time between you and the fulfillment of your dreams.

Congratulations. See you on Oprah.


For more help writing that book read my followup post:

How to Write Your Book in Just a Couple of Weeks


Song Lyrics in Urban Fiction Novels. 5 steps to Getting Rights.

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images-1While editing a manuscript of soon to change the game writer, I am noticing more and more heavy use of songs in Urban Fiction books. That makes sense because, like our music, our books are a pivotal part of our culture. That got me wondering how many Black self-published authors are fully informed about legal ramifications of the unauthorized use of song lyrics in Urban Literature.

While in the past, some books may have been overlooked through self-publishing, ineffective marketing, or low sales, that’s all changing as urban Lit grows up. Some of the chaos and messiness that the genre has experienced on its 20 year road to adulthood is slowly going the way of Hip Hop- mainstream.

Songwriters are writers too. Therefore, their lyrics are protected by Copywrite laws; and, as the game elevates, so will the stakes. Musicians will begin to start to want payment for lyric usage.

Urban Authors can save themselves a lot of headaches by seeking permission to use song lyrics before printing. This is an editor’s job. Traditional publishers do this for you, but Self- published authors with fewer resources may not use reputable editors and might overlook this. Don’t assume your editor will know this or even do this for you. Ask.

If your editor stutters, hesitates or you don’t feel confident with the answer you receive, its up to you to get the knowledge that will give you power.images

Just check out this great article from Anne R. Allen’s blog that tells you how to get the rights to use lyrics n your Urban Fiction novel. It’s called So You Want to Use Song Lyrics in Your Novel? 5 Steps to Getting Rights to Lyrics.

“This week the bookosphere saw something of a teapot-storm when a formerly indie author—now signed with a Big 5 publisher—got an odd notice from Amazon. It said her readers had been asked to delete their old versions of her book and get the new Big 5 version—at the author’s expense.

It sounded like some nasty author-bullying to me—until somebody on a writing forum said the first version might have used pop song lyrics without getting proper permission.

But why would it be such a big deal if the original indie book contained a few song lyrics? Isn’t there some kind of rule that you can use a couple of lines from something without worrying about copyright?

Yup. It’s called “fair use.”

Thing is: fair use doesn’t apply to songs. That’s because songs can have very few lines to use—fairly or otherwise.” You can read the rest of Anne’s article on her blog here….

Does your novel use song lyrics? If so, how did you handle that? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions on this. If you are an editor, do you check for song lyrics?