A Writer’s Guide to Fat Outlining Review (Intentional Writing Challenge)

A Writer’s Guide to Fat Outlining Review

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Back in December 2017, I created a challenge to read writing books with intention. This book review is part of that challenge. To learn more about the Intentional Reading Challenge, see the list of books, and learn how you can join in, click here to go to the original post.


Star Rating: 2.5 stars

Why is it on the list?

I read a handout from the 20Booksto50K Vegas conference where the author shared some compelling statistics claiming that so-called ‘fat outlining’ can dramatically reduce the amount of time and editing needed to finish a project. It sounded like something worth checking out.

Is the information included timeless? Is it outdated?

The information in this book is psychology-based, so it seems pretty timeless.

What did I like about the book?

The book has some interesting insights on a method of outlining that significantly reduces the amount of time spent working on a project. This claim is backed up by data. I did find some of the information helpful.

What didn’t I like about the book?

-It’s really short. I don’t have a problem with short books. In fact, I prefer them most of the time. But Fat Outlining managed to be short AND unforgivably padded. One Amazon reviewer said that it felt like the author was a college student trying to meet a word count and use all their vocabulary words. I have to agree with that.

-To add insult to injury, there’s a “Fat Outlining 2” coming out in mid-December, which makes me wonder why they couldn’t have been one comprehensive volume.

-If you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited Subscription, the book is 4.99, which is WAY too expensive for the little info being given, especially considering that there’s a sequel coming out for the same price.

-The language used was unclear and convoluted most of the time. At certain points it was nearly unintelligible. The style chosen was very academic, which was a bad choice considering the book’s audience. The book could have used a good edit, both for structure and clarity, which is not good when you’re claiming that fat outlining improves writing quality and reduced the amount of editing needed.

-There are references to something called the Phoenix Prime group and a contest they won, which is still mysterious to me, as they are mentioned but not explained in the book. This makes me think this book was written for a specific set of people who are already in the know about such things.

Overall review (is it worth reading?)

It’s a short book, and also currently available in Kindle Unlimited. If you have Kindle Unlimited, go ahead and pick it up. You can read it in under an hour, and the content of the book is useful, if a little sparse. If you don’t have KU, join the 20Booksto50k group and download the notes there and search “Fat Outlining” while you wait for this one to go on sale.

Did I learn anything new by reading this book?

There is a lot of science-y psychological insights that I didn’t know about. This is probably the only book that has this information. So yes. There’s not a lot of it, which I almost think is better, because it means I will be more likely to remember it.

Important Notes:

-Using periods and “end punctuation” stops creative flow.

-For all scenes (actions, beats, etc) author should have sensory descriptions and imagery descriptions planned out and ready to go. This makes the writing more consistent, faster, and easier.

How will incorporate what I learned in this book in my writing life?

When planning out scenes, I will make notes of important sensory details and imagery. I will probably try the entire fat outlining method on a project, just to see how it goes. I may even try to not use periods.


Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Are you participating in the Intentional Reading Challenge? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to join The Writersaurus Facebook Group!


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H. Duke
H. Duke writes fantasy, horror, and more. Her works include the weird west / urban fantasy serial mashup, Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer and the Christmas horror collection, Things on the Shelf: Three Tales of Christmas Terror, as well as the forthcoming Pagewalker series. She wrote the first season of Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer while living in Arizona with her husband, Giru, and a shiny black dog named Jupiter. To see what she's up to now, visit her website.

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