What I Learned Writing Dreamlander: Preparation Is Worth a Pound of Proofreading

This week’s video talks about the biggest lesson I learned while writing Dreamlander and why I probably shouldn’t have had to learn it.

Video Transcript:

This little series of ours can’t even begin to cover all the many lessons I learned while writing my fantasy novel DreamlanderBut I think I can say the most dramatic lesson was one so obvious I shouldn’t have had to learn it. And that was, in a nutshell, don’t skip the prep. Now, as someone who wrote a whole book on outlining and has a whole software program based on that book, you’d probably think outlining would come second nature to me. But this wasn’t always so. Prior to Dreamlander, I had successfully outlined two books. I knew the benefits, I enjoyed the process. But with Dreamlander, I just didn’t do it.

There were a number of reasons for this, the biggest of which was that I was burned out on prep after having to abandon a previously outlined and researched book. I just wanted to dive in and write the darn thing. So I did. And I got stuck because, without an outline, I had no idea where the story was going. So I stopped. I wrote an outline. And then, finally, I started writing again. And—bam!—the difference was incredible.

This whole idea of not skipping prep goes far beyond just outlining—whether that’s your cuppa or not. After my experience with Dreamlander, I certainly believe outlining is the most important part of the prep. But you also have to make time early on for other occasionally unattractive tasks such as research, character interviews, sometimes even a few practice scenes just to figure out the proper POV, tense, voice, and style.

The thing is most of us are writers. So what do we want to do? Write. We don’t want to outline. We don’t want to research. Sometimes we don’t even want to edit. But these are all vital parts of the process. We can write without them. But we’ll never become authors without them. So learn from my mistakes and take the time to do the needed groundwork before you even start that first chapter.


Don’t forget to vote for which prize you’d like to win in the Dreamlander Launch Party Grand Prize Drawing on December 2!

Tell me your opinion: Have you ever neglected prep work and regretted it?

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Thank you so much! I’m just tickled pink that you enjoyed it so much. The story itself remained pretty much the same throughout revisions. A few major scenes got cut, but, mostly, the changes had to do with fleshing out characters and settings. I reused some previously written scenes, but I had to create most of them from scratch. At the time of my initial stall, I didn’t have any kind of an outline at all, so I stopped and created one from there. (If you’re interested in my complete outlining process, you can find out more about that in my book Outlining Your Novel.)

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