The Very Last Word(s) on Outlines

I love it when someones takes a topic I’ve been meaning to get around to and does it so much better. Thanks to Lazette Gifford, I can ditch the notes I had for a post on using outlines. If her name sounds familiar, it’s probably because I’ve been enthusing (Yes, bad word usage, but I feel like using it. So sue me.) about her Phase Outline method, which has been a tremendous boost to this year’s NaNo novel planning.

Today, she put up a post that really is the last word about outlines, as far as I’m concerned.

“People who don’t work with an outline seem to assume that creating one is the same as telling the story, all planned out and complete, and there’s nothing more to it.  This isn’t true: An outline is almost always little more than a series of plot points.  There might be a few notes and even something that says ‘Tom is mad’ at some point.  Creating one is just as much an act of discovery as writing a first draft without one.”

“Having an outline does not mean I won’t discover other interesting things along the way as I write the story.  For me, in fact, an outline means I am more open to discovery.”

“My stories are richer since I began outlining.  I also have far less revision to do later because I make certain the basic plot is going to work from start to finish before I begin writing.  This doesn’t mean everything will always work perfectly, but I have stacked the deck in my favor.”

There’s more good stuff, so go read.

Zette’s Take: How Outlines Work


2 thoughts on “The Very Last Word(s) on Outlines

  1. I finally wrote my NaNo synopsis for this year and put it in my “novel info.” Maybe it would’ve been more logical to write my outline first. ? But I saw “synopsis” on my NaNo page, and got extra enthused. 😀 I don’t think it will be all that apparent to anyone who reads my synopsis, (which, of course, is subject to slight revisions) but my protagonist is going to be sucked deep into a world of horror. Hence the “horror” genre selection. The devil’s in the details, eh? I’m gleeful. Now I’m off to write my rough outline.

    1. I did it a bit differently. I wrote a synopsis, but I used the phase outline of my first two chapters to fill out the “Excerpt” section. That’s temporary, of course, I’ll probably post different excerpts as the month progresses.

      My “outline” is just about finished. I still need to work out scenes for the last chapter or two, and I keep adding bits and pieces here and there.

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