When I finished my third novel, I swore that I would first outline then work from the outline to write my fourth novel.

An outline, I thought, would help me write a book more efficiently, without the need to reorganize chapters, backtrack to check plot points, or rewrite to sort out confusion and repetition. An outline would propel me forward each day, since I would know what needed to happen next. With an outline, I could probably finish a novel in just a couple of months.

Excellent plan, I thought. How naive could I be?

Very. I simply can’t write that way. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my characters until I get immersed in their lives and dilemmas. I don’t think of all the interweaving plot points and digressions at first. The ideas simmer and froth in the back of my mind until I pull them forth as my characters and the plot dynamics need them.

Now that I’m halfway through my fourth novel, a sequel to Shadow of the Rock entitled Return of the Rembrandt, I realize that my first draft has to be considered my “outline.” It still needs much filling in. Character development, relationships, motivations, and plot points have to be refined and strengthened. But I’m on the way.

Years ago, I gave a workshop on setting goals. I discovered that most of the people in the workshop resisted goal-setting. I was shocked. I had thought goal-setting was a no-brainer. Like writing an outline. The most common reason the naysayers gave was that single-minded working to reach a set goal got in the way of serendipitous possibilities along the way. They made an impression, because that’s the way I’ve come to feel about outlining a novel.

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More for the 90s Club

For those who arch eyebrows at my 90s Club mystery series, I add three more examples of 90-year-olds still active, still alert, still contributing.

Featured in Parade Magazine, Dec. 29, 2013 issue, was 94-year-old Olga Kotelko, West Vancouver, Canada, who still competes at long-jumping and high-jumping.

When Marta Eggerth, operetta singer and international film star, was 92, she performed for an hour and a half at a cafe in New York, then went on to perform in other solo shows at the Viennese-style cabaret. She recently died at age 101.

Homer LaBorwit, from Baltimore, MD, was a practicing optician into his 102nd year.

The 90s Club cozy mystery series features Nancy Dickenson and the 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement VIllage who meddle in murder and mayhem and almost lose their lives.
The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase
The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue

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