Writing a book outline is seriously one of the best things you can do for your story. Don’t believe me? Here are the details.
And yes, you do actually need to be writing a book outline. All you panters out there are going to be pretty annoyed with that statement, but to each their own, I guess. This is just what works for me (and many, many successful authors).
Outlining is not only necessary for putting a story together, but it will save you a ton of time during the editing process. Trust me! I once tried to just write a book from a few notes I had written down on a tiny notebook.
It didn’t work out.
The story was flat, it jumped all over the place, and there were major plot holes. Why? Because I didn’t actually plot it. Sure, I knew what I wanted to happen, but I didn’t plan out a way to get there. And that was a huge problem.
So I decided I needed an outline. Actually, Jenna Moreci – cyborg extraordinaire – basically told me to get my head out of my ass and make one. Because I needed one. And so do you.
What’s a book outline?
Essentially, a book outline is like a map for your book. Actually, it’s more like the blueprints and a map all rolled into one.
They’re directions for your book and writing an outline is pretty much one of the best things you can do in terms of consistency, overall structure, and even the storylines themselves.
It’s a step-by-step instruction manual for writing the book itself.
Writing a Book Outline and Why You Need it
Now that you know what an outline is, let’s figure out why it is you really need one. Because in case you haven’t read, well, any of this so far, you need to be writing a book outline.
This is why, especially as a newbie writer, you should be writing a book outline.
1. It gets all your thoughts in one place.
Because, as a writer, I know exactly how hectic your brain is. It’s scattered.
Your ideas for your book are all over the place and if you just write the book without an outline, it will reflect those thoughts.
Outlines allow you to get all of your thoughts, plot points, the ebbs and flows of a chapter, and all that good shit in one place for you to work from.
2. It makes writing the damn thing way easier.
How much easier would it be to write a chapter if you opened an outline and knew exactly what you needed to write? Pretty easy.
An outline will do just that for you.
You have a list to write from sitting right in front of you and you don’t have to sit there with your finger up your nose like, “uh…I don’t know what to write. Uh…”
It’s much better and if that doesn’t convince you to start writing a book outline, I have more.
3. It helps things flow.
And we all hate a book that’s choppy and jumpy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been irritated with a book that just didn’t flow from one scene to another.
An outline lays all of that out so you can see just how much it flows and where you need to tweak things before you even write.
And that means you waste far less time because you can see ahead of time which areas need to be sorted out.
4. It keeps the plot moving forward.
Every single chapter should move the plot forward. Some say every single scene should move the main plot forward.
When you’re a panster and just write whatever you want, it’s easy to get caught up in the side plots and little things that don’t have much to do with the plot. When you have those plot points mapped out, it’ll be ridiculously hard for you to actually miss them.
And that means each part of your book will serve a purpose. Not only does this make for a more exciting read, but you’ll also avoid those “lulls” that make people put books down.
So get to writing a book outline! Now, I say! Now!
5. It makes you more thorough
We all know the details in full about our books and then some. We know too much information. Information that never even makes it into the book.
However, some essential information sometimes gets skipped over if you don’t go through with writing a book outline because you think you’ve mentioned them all before.
When you have an outline, you write down all of those important bits and once you get to them, you write them in. Easy peasy.