Arts & Entertainment, Writing


David Baldacci

Lesson time 16:32 min

David shows you how he writes outlines, emphasizing that it is an ever-evolving process.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Break It Down With Mini Outlines • Sweat the Small Details: The Innocent • Allow Room for Evolution • The Evolution of Story: The Fix • Outline Wrap-Up


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I get asked this question a lot. Do you outline the whole thing from A to Z? Do you outline a little bit as you go along? And the answer is yes to all of those. Every writer that I know does it a little bit differently. I have some really well-known writer friends who outline everything in the book from A to Z. They cannot start writing the novel until I know the ending, exactly how they're going to get there, because they feel like I'm wasting time. I'm floundering, otherwise. I know some writers don't outline long. They just sit down and just wing it and let it grow organically. I'm kind of in the middle. I've never outlined the book from A to Z. I never know the ending of the novel before I sit down. What I tend to do is, I will do two sets of a documentation-- I'll call it that-- where I've got a little binder, where I've got some blank pages. And I do, like, broad movements-- broad sweeps of what I would like to accomplish during the course of that story. And it's very rudimentary. It's just kind of a first stab at it. But I have these big movements, smug movements in a musical score. These are the big things are going to be happening in this novel. And then my job is to fill in all the other stuff that actually makes them work and make sense. And then I have another notebook where I sort of go chapter by chapter. So today, I got up this morning early in-- I was working on chapter 24. And I have my chapter 24. And I have bullet points that I would like to accomplish in that chapter-- could be if someone is meeting somebody-- a certain bit of information is exchanged that maybe will have impact on chapter 25 or maybe chapter 35 down the way. So it's kind of like this intricate puzzle you're having to put together. The great thing for all of you is the writer. You can do it any way that you want. And there's another added benefit-- the longer you write-- guess what-- you can change the process that you do. You may go from outlining everything to just sitting down and just winging it every day and to see how it feels. Or you could go back to out. But it evolves. Don't sort of hamstring yourself into thinking, I can only do it this way. I have changed the way that I plot my books out over the course of time. I've changed my writing style over the course of time. I think that's a good thing. Writer's can evolve too just like other people in other occupations. So for me, it's important to have sort of a broad scope of what I want to get involved. I want to know what the first few chapters I'm trying to accomplish. It's really important for me, because as a writer-- and you may feel the same way-- I'm itching to get to writing a story. I want to get past sort of thinking about it in the outline stage. I always get to the point where book I've outlined a few broad movements, outlined a couple of bullet points for the chapter. I'm like, screw it. I push it aside-- boom. The hands go to the keys, or th...

About the Instructor

David Baldacci has captivated readers across the world with gripping, suspense-fueled thrillers. Now the New York Times–bestselling author of 38 novels shares his techniques for crafting authentic characters, developing research-based plots, and navigating the world of publishing. Learn how to write a novel with red herrings, clues, and plot twists that will keep your readers turning the pages.

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David Baldacci

In his MasterClass, bestselling thriller author David Baldacci teaches you how he fuses mystery and suspense to create pulse-pounding action.

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