Blueprint Your Book: The Inside Outline, with Susanne Dunlap

The hardest part about writing a book-length manuscript is thinking on multiple levels at once and keeping everything organized in your head and on the page. Writers have to make sure their plot makes sense and creates the necessary narrative drive, and that their characters follow a satisfying arc of change. Some authors—plotters—make detailed plot outlines that plan out action but leave the character arc to evolve on its own. Others—pantsers—rely on their gut and storytelling instincts and hope for the best.

But there is a third technique that can help both pantsers and plotters see the shape and trajectory of their manuscripts and identify problem areas they might not have noticed. It’s called the Inside Outline. The Inside Outline is a powerfully simple tool that makes it possible to track both plot development and character arc in a single, living document. Why does that matter? Because writers can then see the logic of the plot and how it reflects the inner workings of their main character. It helps writers to pull apart those complex layers so they can fuse them effectively in their manuscript.

The beauty of this tool is that it works for both pantsers and plotters, and can be used at the beginning of your project when all you’ve got is an idea, in the middle when you’ve written yourself into a corner, and at the end, when you’ve got a completed manuscript but something isn’t working quite right. In this workshop, writers will create their own Inside Outline and receive personalized feedback. Once you are familiar with this technique you’ll never look back!

This workshop is part of the Blueprint Your Book series, which is designed to help writers stack the building blocks of their book in a way that provides structure while allowing for plenty of space to modify and hone as they write. Writers of all genres are welcome to register for all four workshops or as many of the workshops appeal to their current needs!

Saturday, September 5, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ($75)

 Susanne Dunlap is the author of nine historical novels for adults and teens. Her young adult novel The Musician’s Daughter was a Junior Library Guild selection and a Bank Street Children’s Book of the Year, and it was nominated for the Missouri Gateway Readers Prize and the Utah Book AwardHer latest novels, Listen to the Wind and The Spirit of Fire are the first volumes of a medieval trilogy for adults, The Orphans of Tolosa. Listen to the Wind is a semi-finalist for the Chaucer Awards for Pre-1750 Historical Fiction and a Distinguished Favorite in the NYC Big Book Awards. Susanne has a PhD in music history from Yale University.

Susanne Dunlap