I finished up "Book 1" of my series, and it was very much a fly-by-the-seam-of-my-pants type of writing. I let the plot develop as I wrote, in other words. And it did. I had to reread/rewrite it a lot and switch different chapters and events around to make it a cohesive whole, but it finally came out just right.

The issue I'm having is that for this new work I have a few major ideas and conflicts in mind, but I am having an extreme case of writer's block trying to "connect the dots." I understand that outlining your entire plot makes the writing process easier, but I have never attempted that approach. Are there any helpful websites or even just plain old good advice to get me going on this new approach?

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    We cannot answer your question, because we do not know what blocks you. There are so many causes for writer's block – from disinterest in the plot to fear of not living up to the first volume – that all answers will be guesswork. I have therefore voted to close this question as "unclear what you are asking". If you edit your question and explain in enough detail what ails you, I'll retract that vote – and possibly answer your question. The first step you need to take is self-reflect and identify what is causing your block. No help can be found before that.
    – user29032
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 19:13
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    Plain old good advice: Identify the central struggle of your story. Fit it to an accepted novel structure. Pop your scenes in where they fit. Fill in the rest. You will need revisions with either approach
    – SFWriter
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 19:53

3 Answers 3


If you have time, try reading Closing Time, Joseph Heller’s hardly-ever-heard-of sequel to Catch 22; not in any way to try to emulate it, but to see how little plot matters. Catch 22 itself showed that side-lines can be as gripping as any real plot, and Closing Time does the same in spades.

At the end of the day, did the method you used for Book 1 work, or not? To the extent it worked, stick to it.

Who says outlining the plot makes things easier? Look, most obviously, at Game of Thrones and you should see that either Martin is at least as great a logician as a good writer, or he doesn’t bother with plot… he just sits at his desk and lets the story flood out, as much through as in any way due to him personally.

What is Book 2 about, please?

Is the whole thing about character, like James Bond or Jack Reacher, and all else is little more than an excuse for action, or are the books essentially episodes in a single story?

Either way, what’s the absolutely basic outline? “Boy meets girl” sounds too extreme for me but “there’s this character, who does that thing, which leads to this outcome…”

Then, what must be carried over from Book 1?

When you feel blocked, why not just ignore it and write on - quite literally? That is to say, decide how long you want to write for and in that time, write. When you feel blocked, write “block block block block…” or “write write write write” or any similar such nonsense. Use “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party” or “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” if you like, or swap them about. If you really have to, carry on like that for an hour or two, or six or twelve; the only point is to keep writing for the time you set yourself, with no breaks at all.

We don’t care how boring it is; when you do that you are writing, rather than worrying about not writing.

If you do that with plots or characters held somewhere in your mind, they will surface and start writing themselves.

If characters or actions surface first, fine. Write them up and save them for later.

If plot lines surface first, fine. Write them down and wait for their characters or actions to bubble up.

  • Thank you VERY much. All of those pointers are extremely helpful. I suppose if style from book 1 worked I shouldn't have to change it. I will try what you said and hopefully the block clears up quickly! Commented May 7, 2018 at 16:25

You can try the snowflake method for outlining novels.

It's an outlining method designed by Randy Ingermanson. You start with a basic hook summary sentence and then work your way outwards into more detail. There are 10 specified steps.

It is designed for outlining a novel before you even start writing, rather than you fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method you used previously. It can be adjusted to work across a series of novels, but was original for standalone novels. I'm pretty sure if you already have characters fully developed and new story ideas, this could be easily inputted into the fractal snowflake design.

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    Thank you @Everybithelps that is a very interesting approach. I've never heard of it before, but it does give outlining a bit of room to breath by making you go back and forth between thinking about characters and plot. I much appreciate it! Commented May 10, 2018 at 21:21

For a start, putting effort into story structure is good enough if you know it’s right.

If you have writer’s block you should try either reading or taking a break, because either way writer’s block may only be temporary. Writers, even Stephen King, take breaks from writing, if they need to in King’s case.

Most writer’s have suggested that reading again helps writer’s block. It might even help you think about ‘Book 2’.

  • Thank you for the ideas for overcoming my writers block. Truth be told; I haven't been reading lately. Any tips on how to outline? Commented May 5, 2018 at 18:56
  • @ProfetikOne Focus on your plot points to keep as simple as you can, so that you can remember it well enough to develop it. Commented May 5, 2018 at 19:38

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