Writing a novel is an amazing adventure in so many ways. Storytelling is an age-old practice that not many are truly spectacular at. All writers of fiction aspire to be a best selling author, but it gets progressively more difficult as the market becomes more saturated over time.
Whether or not to outline is an age-old debate that has passionate proponents on each side of the fence. The reality is though, whether you like it or not, an outline has many benefits when you’re attempting the next big thing. If you’re new to this concept, a novel outline template is a good tool to help you get it right. There are many ways in which an outline will help you:
An Outline Saves You Time
No matter how you slice it, creating and using an outline will save you time. It might be more of an initial time investment, but you’ll reap the rewards down the road. Writing from scratch with no plan can be fun, no doubt. There are times where it’s even quite productive.
However, when you’re serious about writing a true, good-quality novel, it only causes problems long-term. You’ll have to backtrack to remind yourself of details. Unless you write in chronological order the entire time, you’ll lose your place a lot. You won’t have an overall picture of the story which will lead to a lot of plot holes.
The list could go on. Lastly, you will also save time by being able to write faster. Having a plan means you won’t have to sit there mid-scene and think forever about the next idea or big plot point.
It Helps You Enhance the Plot
Speaking of plot points, no novel will sell without an interesting, unique, and engaging plot. An outline will do wonders for your plot. Of course, things are subject to change along the way. But, having direction, in the beginning, will allow you to see the bigger picture.
This means you’ll have the best chance of coming up with something awesome and original. When you have ideas, you’ll see immediately where they fit in, how they fit in, and how they work with the overall story.
It also gives you better visibility for devices such as foreshadowing and irony. Opportunities will be more obvious.
It Shows You Plot Holes
Plot holes are the bain of every writer’s existence. No novel will go on to major success if it’s riddled with major plot holes. No matter how you write or what you do, the odd plot hole is often unavoidable.
However, they will be easier to spot when laid out in an outline. Not only will you see them more easily, but you will also catch them earlier. Preventing a potential plot hole is much easier than trying to write yourself out of one that has unraveled.
You Will Stay Engaged
For some, one of the hardest parts of writing a novel is staying engaged. In the beginning, it’s easy. The idea is new, you’ve got all sorts of ideas, and you’re fired up.
But, then you get started, and things get difficult. You get hit with writer’s block. You realize one of your big ideas isn’t going to work after all. Maybe you get frustrated with an uncooperative character.
There are so many things that can go wrong and cause you to lose interest. But, if you have an outline, you won’t get off track so easily. You might get discouraged and frustrated but at least you’ll have some direction to fall back on. You’ll have a sense of where the story is going and you’ll be able to push forward even if you’re a little stuck.
It Gives You A Proper Structure
Every novel needs a structure. Each genre has different structures and “rules” that make it work and define it as the genre that it is. Knowing how to outline a novel means being familiar with structure. Before you create your outline, you’ll need to know the basic structure you’re going to use for the novel.
There are many different types of structure and some work better than others, but the bottom line is that structure works. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative and original. Novel structures still leave you plenty of room to change and adapt the structure to your specific story.
Deviating completely from structure and trying to rebel against it is not advisable. You may think you’re “going against the grain” and being original, but it won’t pan out. In romance especially, readers expect a basic structure. They want to see your story thrive and enthrall them within that given structure that they know and love.
Using an outline will help you stay within your structure because the major points will be laid out for you from the beginning.
To Outline or Not?
This is always a pressing question. Some people wrestle with it a great deal, and others are vehemently against it. However, the benefits an outline can give you are undeniable. Even if you hate it, even if it feels silly or useless, at least give it a try.
You can do a basic one. Even a simple, lightweight outline can help you in many ways. When you do it properly and with a purpose in mind, you might find you become a huge fan of outlining your novels.
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