As stated in my previous blog, outlining your novel is imperative for a well written work. I’ve found that there are other advantages to outlining also.
Advantages of outlining that I’ve found include:
- Helps prevent writers block. Writers block can be a real bummer. Sitting in front of a blank computer screen having nothing to say is a big waist of time and can be awful discouraging. But, having an outline practically guarantees you’ll always have something to write. Each morning (or evening) you fire up your computer and begin your writing session all you have to do is consult your outline for the next scene.
- You know the ending. Ever start a story and over half way through realize you have no clue as to how it will end? It was a wonderful premise with great characters and a killer hook, but you just don’t have an ending. So, you save the file and start another project. Having an outline assures you can complete your novel.
- You know where you’re going. In an earlier blog on outlining I mentioned that the outline was a GPS for your writing. Although, occasionally writing with no definite plan can be exciting and thought provoking, with a long work like a novel, getting lost along the way can be a scary proposition.
- You can create a daily word/page quota easier. Some people like to set a goal of a daily word count or page count. Knowing where you’re going next helps you set and maintain that daily quota a bit easier. If you know what needs to be done ahead of time it’s a lot easier to set a goal.
- You can finish your project on time. If you’ve set a deadline for your novel, having an outline allows you to pace yourself in pursuit of the finish line. By knowing how many scenes are needed to compete the project you can set a daily writing quota to end the work at the predetermined time.
- It isn’t written in stone. Prussian Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” The same can be said of outlines. As you are writing your novel you may find that things work out better if the Protagonist is fired from his job in chapter five instead of getting the promotion as stated in the outline. Don’t be afraid to change the outline. In my new novel THE PERIL PROTOCOL, the antagonist, a serial killer, initially was in cahoots with his mother to murder selected victims based on their looks. It didn’t work out, so I made the antagonist a lone serial killer who killed people who defied him.
- It can serve as a template for the dreaded synopsis. You’ve finally finished your novel. Maybe a year of long hours and late nights of blood, sweat, and tears have been expended. But wait, your not finished. You need a synopsis to present to agents or to put on your novel’s web site. Your outline , if done right, is a pretty good summary of your novel and can serve as guide for your synopsis.