Laura Lippman Discusses Her Visual and Colorful Outlining Technique

Posted on September 17, 2019

Laura Lippman has a unique outlining process that is visual and colorful. She explains her outlining process in a blog post and a recent video from Harpercollins.

Lippman says in article, titled That Thing I Do, that she doesn't outline before starting a novel. Instead, she turns to the outline when she is much deeper into a novel and feeling really stuck.

Generally, I produce these outlines when I'm feeling really stuck. That can come as early as the first half of the book or as late as the three-fourths mark. The more important thing is that the outlines are not text-reliant. They eschew words as much as possible as I break the book down into a series of colors and symbols. Then I step back and look at what I’ve done, my eyes searching for what’s wrong, what’s out of balance, what’s not working.

The outline includes the use of colorful index cards. Lippman says she can begin to "see something" in her creative outline. She says if the visual outline is not pleasing to the eye it can mean that "something is missing or something is disproportionately taking up too much room in the novel."

It is a very interesting technique that certainly gets results for her. Laura Lippman's latest novel is Lady in the Lake.

Lippman also has a reporter background as discussed in an interview about her novel, In a Strange City.

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