C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

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Should you outline your book?

Outlines save time.

The novice should outline so they don’t get sucked down too many rabbit holes. It is soul-crushing to write and write and then to discover that you need to back up 50 pages to get out of a dead end. I just write a sequence of events and don’t bother with the Roman numerals they taught you in grade school. A good outline will help you avoid pitfalls, allow you to play with timelines, beats, plot structure and pacing.

Outlines get a bad rep because people think an outline stifles creativity and gives too much structure. My reply: an outline is only a straitjacket if you allow it to be. You can deviate from the road map and explore but retain the strength of story through an overview.

If you are a discovery writer, it is incredibly freeing to just sit down and go, but you are risking wasted time. Given how long it takes to write a book, who has time to waste? At least have some target for where the story is going to end up.

There will be a thousand small changes to make when you’re done the first draft. You’ll have to adjust times, facts, locations and ensure a believable character arc.

Outlines will save you at least a bit of that work.

Filed under: publishing, writing tips, ,

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