One Outline to Rule Them All (Even if You Hate Outlining): Blueprint for a Book Step 8

One Outline to Rule Them All (Even if You Hate Outlining): Blueprint for a Book Step 8

Episode 329

Writing is, sadly, not like reading.

Plenty of writers, including all of us on this episode, write a few hundred thousand words before we figure that out. Because in some ways, writing words about characters you’ve invented is easy. They go for coffee! They banter! And writing words about your non-fiction topic of choice, or the hike you took in the Sierra Nevadas—same same.

It’s writing the right words, in the right order, that’s the challenge.


In this episode, we introduce our favorite not-an-outline-if-you-hate-outlining but yeah ok let’s talk about that tool: the Inside Outline for fiction and the Outcome Outline for nonfiction. Long detailed outlines not for you? You’re golden—this demands the fewest possible words describing every scene or event that drives the reader through the book (Hello, Step 7, how we missed you).

Love a long detailed outline? Get ready to boil that down to its essence before you build it back up. Here’s the thing: this is supposed to be hard. It should feel impossible.

Because you can’t write everything. You have to choose.

This is the eighth episode in the 10-part Blueprint for a Book Series. Start with Step 1, do the work (we’ll give you an assignment every week), and in 10 weeks, you’ll have a solid foundation for a first draft or revision of your project that will help you push through to “the end”. Find details on the challenge HERE.


Fiction and Narrative Memoir:

Download the Inside Outline worksheet HERE and create your Inside Outline. Don’t cheat! Following the rules is what makes this powerful.

Nonfiction and Memoir/Self-Help

Download the Outcome Outline worksheet HERE and create your Outcome Outline. There are fewer rules for the Outcome Outline, but you have to be crystal clear about your logic.

(Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 8. The Inside Outline or the Outcome Outline.)


Rachael Herron’s How Do You Write Ep 301 with Isabel Cañas

Bittersweet, Susan Cain

We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth, Jennifer Risher

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman

Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir)

Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book


A fan of true crime (#ssdgm) and mysteries of all kinds, Samantha Skal’s book coaching motto is “it’s time to get out of hell and finish your book”. Her magic gift is decoding agent rejections and helping writers produce and present their very best work. Find out more HERE.

For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE

For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com.

This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.