Gay Talese’s outline for his classic profile “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”

I found an article by Emily Temple with some fascinating examples of author’s handwritten plots for their novels. I do everything in software these days, but I’m always interested in learning how the best plan their work. I’m on the hunt for those little secret nuggets that will make my books all that much better–like rare spices to ad to your favorite recipe.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites from that post: The first is my favorite, and though for a magazine article, I love the little geometric sketches, and plan for emotional beats in the article.


James Salter’s outline for Light Years


J.K. Rowling’s spreadsheet plan for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.


Joseph Heller’s chart outline for Catch-22.


Henry Miller’s manuscript plan for Tropic of Capricorn


Norman Mailer’s character timeline for Harlot’s Ghost


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