Fixing bad writing habits: creating an outline

I’ve been thinking about writing a lot over the last few months but have yet to produce anything. I have sizable chunks for two novels – over 50k words for each (thank you, Nanowrimo); however, there isn’t a lot of usable content. I found that when I was writing for word count (and both years I was competing to be the first of my cohorts to reach 50k words), I’d write poorly. For example:

Sylvia paused at the street corner and looked longingly through the window of the cafe, hesitating for just a moment to inhale the sharp scent of freshly ground coffee beans before giving up and heading to the counter to order her frothy and sweet morning latte.

(I was the first to reach 50k words both years.) You see why I have so much unusable content? Nanowrimo was a great motivator, but I was a lax writer.

The other problem I ran into was lack of organization and outline. I had an idea of what I wanted to happen, but I got lost in the side stories and couldn’t get back to the main story. I finally came to the conclusion that I’m a writer who needs to follow an outline. But what type of outline?

Papa G led me to a few promising sites, but after discounting pages for the obvious reasons (comic sans usage, too many grammatical errors, too wordy, grating to the eyes), I only have:

I think I need to look a little deeper.

The Average Joe’s guide to outlining a novel

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