Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawker

“It’s best to have your tools with you. If you don’t, you’re apt to find something you didn’t expect and get discouraged.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

We are in the last few days before NaNoWriMo begins and I know some of you are participating. As it happens, I’ve decided to participate this year as well. The first year I participated I was a pantser, it didn’t go well. I struggled and floundered and lost my way. This year I decided to do an outline and I went looking for a little help. Take Off Your Pants! by Libbie Hawker, seemed like a good place to start.



I know that some of you are pantsers and some of you are plotters. If you are comfortable with how you do things this might not be the book for you. But… and that is a really big but, I think both could learn a thing or two (or three or four) from this book.

Libbie Hawker knows that people are pretty set in their ways when it comes to plotting and pantsing, and plenty have voiced their opinion on their personal choice. She herself, has actually used both at different times and with different books that she has written, and she has written quite a bit. If you aren’t happy with how your writing went during the last NaNo or how your writing is going in general, keep reading.

Hawker approaches her writing career as a career and I think some of us (looking at myself in the mirror) only look at the creative side and forget to give our writing the respect and attention it deserves. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of feeling like I’m hanging on a cliff, wondering if I am ever going to make it to the top or if I am going to splatter at the bottom never to be seen or heard from again. Okay so that is a little drastic/dramatic but if feels that way sometimes.

I guess that is why I am seriously looking at how she works her outline and seeing how I can work it for myself (she gives you lots of wiggle worm).  After all, she must be doing something right as her books are consistently in the top 100 of their categories.

Libbie Hawker has a rhythm to her writing that makes it easy to read her words, easy to understand her meaning, and easy enough to follow along to get your words onto the page.

In the book she breaks down each piece of the outline in detail and gives examples from her own books as well as from other books from other well known authors.

Aspects in her book that really got my attention:

  • Character arc – I found myself saying, “Oh… finally I understand.”
  • Character flaws – Not everyone is going to agree with this but how many people ever agree on any one thing.
  • Antagonist and Ally – Not sure that I’ve read about a character having an ally before but it made sense.

The author doesn’t say that this is the one true way to write a book. She admits that different things work for different people. However you get your words written, I’m almost positive you will find something in this book that will help you on your journey.


I’ll be working through Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books For Faster Better Writing to create an outline tomorrow.  If you want to know more about Libbie Hawker and the other books she has out, visit her website.

How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo if you are participating?

What books on writing do you turn to when you need help outlining your story?

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About MDragonwillow 95 Articles
Morgan Dragonwillow: Poet , author of Wild Woman Waking & Dancing within Shadow, massage therapist and facilitator of magical journeys who (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. When she isn't working with clients, writing or dancing you can find her encouraging and supporting her writing community at #StoryDam#OctPoWriMo, & #PoetsonthePage You can also find her on Google+


  1. I’d never heard of this book, but it sounds very helpful in a “nuts and bolts” way. Plus, you’ve just gotta love that title! Also, sounds like she is able to explain the mechanics of a story in a helpful way, which is not always the case. I have a couple books on writing that make my eyes glaze over.

    • Yes, I couldn’t resist the title! I was actually doing a search through my ebooks on Kindle and I guess they now show, not just your purchased ebooks, but also ebooks that match your search that you haven’t purchased. They’re sneaky.

      I’m finding it very helpful in prepping for NaNoWriMo. She definitely doesn’t make my eyes glaze over and she kept everything to the point so it isn’t an overly long book, which I forgot to mention in the review, oh well. =)

  2. I have heard a few writers say they picked up this book and it was very informative and they took a lot away from it. I’m not a plotter, but with all the good I hear, it may be one I pick up to see what new things I can learn.

    • I get a lot of anxiety over reading these “how to write a book” books (I think it is my perfectionism and wanting to get it right) but this book is easy to read and to work through the assignments. I am finding it very helpful in knowing how to write my story and how to put it together so that someone just might want to read it. LOL!

  3. Looks like a good book to check out. I often turn to Blockbuster Plots by Martha Alderson. I also just took an online class on The Heroine’s Journey, which used Maureen Murdock’s book. Now I have a ready-made rough outline to work from.

    • And I have to say, reading through it for the review was much different than actually working my outline with it, I like it even better now. =) It helped me alot!

      Oh and I love the book The Heroine’s Journey, have that myself.

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