There seems to be two types of writers: the organic writer, and the outline writer.
I’m a firm believer that an outline can help any writer be more efficient. Many view this tool as a destroyer of creativity, as though it turns the writing process into an assembly line. Look at it this way. Your creative brain wrote the outline in the first place, and it will be your creativity that will bring your story to life, each magical chapter, each eloquent sentence. And nothing is set in stone. It’s your story. You can re-evaluate as you go along and revise your outline as needed.
No matter what category you fall under, here’s what an outline can do for your writing:
No one likes the editing process. Well, some of you do, but I think you’re crazy. There, I said it. Why not make it easier on yourself by having a clear picture of where your story is going ahead of time? Before wayward side stories, unnecessary scenes, and disappearing secondary characters pollute your novel.
Prevents pointless chapters.
You might love the chapter. It helps develop your characters, it’s fun, it’s full of action. But does it actually do anything to progress the main plot? Does it serve a purpose in the story? No? You know what could have helped point that out before you spent all that time writing it? Yup. An outline.
Highlights those plot holes and nagging unanswered questions.
Sometimes we just want to put that pen to paper and start writing, letting the details work themselves out as we go. But it can be those little details that will turn a story on its head, and to rectify it could mean a lot of backtracking.
An outline can show you where the tension and conflict rises, and where it falls flat, allowing you to switch it up or insert new developments to maintain the excitement level — and your readers’ interest.
Keeps you on track.
Like to stick to a schedule? If you set defined goals, such as a specific word count for the day or a certain number of chapters per week, an outline is a handy reference to help guide you.
Besides, you’ll probably need one anyway (unless you’re self-publishing).
Agents and editors like to see that you have a well-developed story without reading 300 pages only to discover it’s just a meandering, aimless journey for your unwitting main character.
No one is entirely productivity-driven, nor are they entirely organic in their style. Writers are a mix of both. However, at one point or another, we all say, “I wish I had more time to write.” An outline could be your answer. The more time you save on editing later means more time you can spend letting your creative juices flow. Give it a try.
Do you agree? Disagree? What’s your preferred method?