Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Why Outlines Are Good For Writing

This weekend marked the point where I successfully completed my first chapter outline draft. I can now say that I am planning to write twenty four chapters in my third book and I have a brief idea what will happen in each. Actually, it's more than a brief idea: it's a solid foundation of what's to come. I can easily add more layers of writing to my base.

I first decided to write the chapter outlines because I love having a map to follow before I set out on a journey. The outline allows me to write with purpose while occasionally writing outside the lines. Basically the outline offers me a structure while also giving me permission to wander off course. The outline cannot be rigid as the result would be forced, weak writing.

The outline gives me passion and determination and a whole lot of courage to sit down and make a start on writing the book. It is a daunting prospect for any writer when they settle down to write a full length novel, even when the writer has the experience of writing previous books. Writing my first book was terrifying. Thinking about writing my second book seemed like an impossible task. But I managed both and now I am faced with penning my third. But as I write a constant stream of ideas flows to me. This is extremely encouraging and comforting as I know that if just write I will able to produce my book. Many people think that writing books is an overwhelming task and those thoughts prevent them from making a start. Penning any book is indeed a great commitment but it can be done, just as long as you write something every day or week. Like eating an elephant it just takes time and having a chapter outline will help guide you to staying on the right path.

What do you think of chapter outlines? Are they beneficial to you?

7 comments:

  1. yes they are beneficial, especially for me since I am writing a series and I have to keep track of what happens in each book, even the smallest thing can make your book inconsistent. The only thing is I never stick to the outline, but that's okay, it is a guide to keep you on the right path! Thanks for the post!

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  2. I don't do chapter outlines, although I can certainly see the advantage. My book is framed in terms of a general outline, but the subject is so complicated that writing freely on this one works best for me. I know that there will be a lot of re-structuring when the book is complete. I may try to do a chapter outline and compare it to what I wrote without one and see what it looks like. Great ideas -- and thank you for the insightful post!

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  3. I love chapter outlines. Like you I see them as a map to get there. My stories always wander because the first draft explores the details around the outline. I've never had a book that I outlined completely change, but one of the ones I didn't outline got completely rewritten 3 times. I don't have the time or patience to write books over and over. I like to do the first draft and then improve and polish that - maybe over and over, but at least the story is there.

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  4. I have a sort-of plan, but allow myself to wander down pathways if it feels right. Sometimes they are dead ends (that's what delete buttons are for) but if I'm lucky they take the story somewhere truly wonderful.

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  5. I do a basic outline at a high level, with all the major plot points I want to hit, but usually never a chapter-by-chapter outline. I always come up with good ideas while writing so I have trouble sticking with an outline. "The tale grew in the telling," so Tolkien once said.

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  6. Hey LK, I like to have an outline but it's always a work in process. I start out with the most basic outline of a few sentences written for a beginning, a middle, and a possible end. Then I fill in what has to happen in the beginning to get to the middle; in the middle to get to the end; and what has to happen to wrap up the story in the end. The outline changes as I write, but when I begin revision I create a chapter-by-chapter outline making sure I hit all of the major points of each chapter.

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  7. Hi Guys,
    Thank you all for commenting and sharing your experiences.

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