Outlining can involve any combination of making notes on major story elements such as plot, theme, setting and characters; or it can entail setting out the main events from beginning to end. And the length and depth of an outline can vary; some are more complicated than others. The point of outlining is to help you with the actual writing of your book. It ensures that the writing process progresses in as smooth a manner as possible.
When writing a book, creating an outline is a process. It can involve any combination of making notes on major story elements such as plot, theme, setting and characters; or it can entail setting out the main events from beginning to end. And the length and depth of an outline can vary; some are more complicated than others. Either way, the purpose is simple – to help authors write their books.
Why Outlining Matters When Writing a Book
Some question whether outlining has a role to play in the process of writing a book. In fact, the idea of plunging into the depths of the writing process without an outline to guide you isn’t new. Many people shun the task of preparing an outline without taking the time to understand the benefits it can bring to their work. The point of outlining is to help you with the actual writing of your book. And here are some of the benefits worth considering:
1. Outlining Can Give Your Story a Sense of Direction
Outlining forces you to closely analyze all the pieces of your plot and its structure. It helps you to actually think things through by encouraging you to make even more of an effort to flush out your ideas and concepts from the start. When writing, there will be no need to throw things at the wall and wait to see what sticks. And you won’t have to worry about getting lost and ending up down a blind alley with your plot. With an outline you’ll know exactly what to write next. The overall quality of your work will benefit, and in the long run you will produce a more complete and cohesive story.
2. Outlining Saves You Time
Outlining is the most time efficient method of writing a book. Trying to tackle writing from start to finish without an outline can lead to many mistakes in your plotting and characterization. These sorts of errors emerge from the changes you make to your story as you write it – changes that might contradict what you’ve already written. Consequently, your work will require significant editing and revisions, which are both very time-consuming. Taking time to outline your writing from onset can save you time in the long run because you’ll be less likely to encounter a lot errors along the way.
3. Outlining Allows You to Make Changes
Outlining allows you to easily make changes to your plot and/or add new characters to your story. Since an outline gives you a bird’s eye view of your story, you can garner a clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t work from the start. This in turn makes it possible for you to initiate changes before you ever begin writing. So instead of having to continue writing along a path you’ve blindly carved without direction, outlining allows you to keep making alterations until you create the best possible version of your ideas.
4. Outlining Eliminates Writer’s Block
With outlining, there is very little chance of writer’s block. If your story has been outlined beforehand, then, at no point during the writing process will you struggle to figure out what to write next. This is because your entire story has already been documented, and you need only refer to your notes to open the way forward.
Additionally, outlining allows you to break your project down into manageable chunks. This is important for authors who struggle with blockage right out the gate.
5. Outlining Reveals Your Story’s Weaknesses
The last thing you want is to stumble upon massive plot holes when you are already 400 pages deep into the process of writing a book. Outlining helps you detect problems and holes in your story ahead of time. Making an outline will allow you to break your story down into its most basic elements, ensuring that every single piece works. This in turn will enable you to be proactive in sealing any gaps in your plot or resolving inconsistencies with a character. Ultimately you won’t have to worry about encountering any unexpected mistakes down the road.
The point of outlining when writing a book is to give you some peace of mind. Outlining ensures that you, first and foremost, have a solid and unassailable concept, plot, characters and arcs before you type out that first chapter. Outlining ensures that the writing process progresses in as smooth a manner as possible.