Plot, Writer Tips

5 Reasons Why Every Writer Should Outline

What does outlining even do to your story? Is it actually good? How does it effect your writing? Can’t you just be a pantser and write whatever?

Today we’re going to be looking at 5 awesome things outlining does for/to you while also looking at plotters and pantsers. 

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1. Outlining…Digs Into Your Creativity

I know that lots of pantsers out there are indignant about this. They say that outlining and structure sets boundaries on your creativity, but I very strongly disagree with that. 

What I’ve learned from outlining is that you’re going to be asked questions you never would’ve thought that you needed to be asked before. And yet, if you hadn’t been asked that question, your whole book could’ve been different. Maybe not as good, even.

Think of it like this: Pantsing is just your ideas of your story…the surface – like the top of the ground. Outline is taking those ideas and doing something with them…digging beneath the dirt to the bottom where all the gold is.

I’ve been using lots of awesome writing books to help me along the road of structuring my book, and in those books they’re always urging you forwards with these questions that really make you think of your book in a whole new way, getting you to go deeper than you realized you needed to, and then helping you really express your ideas.

So, no, my friends, plotting does not set barriers. Actually, pantsing is the limiter to your creativity, because you’ll never be able to dig as deep as you could’ve if you’re only scratching the surface.

2. Outlining…Fixes Plot Holes

When you outline your book, you’re going to end up figuring out your entire plot, and-if you’re super dedicated-you’ll figure out all your scenes.

When you’re plotting that all out, you’re most likely going to end up with a few plot holes here and there.

Plot holes-for those of you who don’t know what they are-are essentially missing pieces in your plot where things just don’t add up. There are minor ones-like if you’re character lived on a farm his whole life and all of a sudden he knows exactly how to use a sword-or there are big ones-like forgetting to mention the reason why the characters have to go on this big adventure and risk their lives.

And here’s an awesome deal: If there happen to be any plot holes, you can fix them before you write your whole book IF you’re outlining.

It you just pants it, well, you won’t realize there’s a hole until maybe the end of the book, or-horror of horrors-ever at all!

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So, if you want to save yourself from hours, days, months, even YEARS of work on a book with a gaping plot hole, outlines are the thing for you!

3. Outlining…Helps You Order Your Thoughts

Us writers get really excited when it comes to new and super epic ideas.

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As soon as we think up of another awesomely epic thing, we chuck it into our story without a second thought. After all, another cool thing will just make this whole thing cooler! that sounds very weird to say out loud

BUutuuttttt it doesn’t work that way. 

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Yes, you can comes up with lots of great ideas, but no that doesn’t mean you need to stick it in your story. And if you do, it might not even make sense. Cool for the sake of cool is not cool

I know guys…such wise words of wisdom sprouting from me today. 

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Still, we can get pretty stubborn and attached to our ideas. Being a pantser, you can just throw it in. Being an outliner, you actually need to take the time to consider questions such as:

  • how it will effect my story?
  • how might it add or not add to it?
  • is it just filler?
  • does it drive my plot forward or slow it down?

From just a quick look at those questions, you can see that when you outline, you’re able to figure out whether it’s essential to the plot and whether you really need certain things. But when you pants it, you could be throwing in just the thing that’ll actually slow down your whole book, which is just the ticket readers need to stop reading. 

4. Outlining…Let’s You Understand Things Better

Okay, ‘things’ is a very vague term, so what I mean by that, is:

  • Your characters
  • Your world
  • Your protagonist (his Lie, Truth, Need, Want, Ghost, etc.)
  • Your antagonist
  • The plot
  • etc.

When you’re a pantser, all this is going to be very vague. You might know what your character looks like, and their personality, and all that fun stuff, butttt when you’re a pantser you never give you characters motives. So they’re not realistic, and they’re not human-like. 

When you’re a plotter you really get to delve into who/what your character’s, your world, your plot, etc. really are/is. You get the chance to really understand everything more. Understand why character’s are doing what they’re doing and how they’re going to do it and where they’re going to do it at, etc.

So if you feel that your characters, world, plot, etc. are flat, it’s because you haven’t given yourself the chance to really know them better. So take a chance and plot/outline them out.

5. Outlining…Makes Sense

I started my writing career/when I seriously began writing my book by being a pantser. There were two reasons why I decided to be one:

  1. Because I was too lazy to plot everything out
  2. Because I believed I was too good of a writer to need an outline

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Well first off, writing a book aint for the lazy, so I may as well have been fired on the spot. 

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Second…well, to be blunt, the best writers are the ones who use outlines. 

Wanna know why?

Because when you use an outline…your book will actually make sense.

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I know, I know, big world-changing revelation, butttt…it’s true. I’ve read books (and tried to write books) that weren’t outlined, and they’re a mess, believe me. 

So, you want your book to be amazing? You want life-like characters, a realistic world, and an incredible plot? You want everything to make sense, and no holes in your plans? You want to be a unique writer and so much more? Use an outline. Become a plotter. Go to the awesome side of this writer world.

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Bonus: But Where Do I Start?

Let’s say you’re a pantser and you read this post and you were deeply moved by my incredibly powerful words of deep wisdom and decided, hey, why not become a plotter? they’ve got cookies over there anyway…

Well, I’d suggest to start off with these books:

K.M Weiland: Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

K.M Weiland: Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure

K.M Weiland: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

(There are also Workbooks to go along with all three of these books, which I also recommend checking out!)

K.M also owns a blog, which I recommend checking out as well!

Jeff Gerke: Plot Vs Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction

(^I definitely recommend that one)

Jessica Brody: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need

(^as a warning, I have yet to finish reading this book, but so far I’m leaning towards it as a good book if you a) know nothing about plot/structure or b) you’re a pantser becoming a plotter.)Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 2.39.03 PM

Admittedly, outlining is some tricky stuff. But would you rather work on a book for a few years and have it turn out terrible? Or would you rather work on a book for a few years and have it turn out amazing?

You get to decide.

Are you a plotter or pantser? If you’re a pantser, are you interested in becoming a plotter now?

What are your thoughts on outlining or not?

*Also, so sorry for not posting anything last week! School and other activities are piling up, and there’s lots to do, so I don’t have as much time to spend on my posts anymore. Any posts suggestions are always appreciated!

Like these posts? Wanna have more? Subscribe to my email list to receive inside info and lots of fun! 

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment down below.

Thanks for reading!

Mary

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14 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Every Writer Should Outline”

  1. Yep I totally agree, outlining is very important! There are sometimes when I don’t outline, like maybe I outline the very basic idea but let myself go free on the details, which is fun, because you can’t outline everything! XD
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha love all the gifs you used in this post! The avoiding plot holes one was the best thing about outlining stories for me. If I didn’t outline and just pantsed the whole story, I fell into many a hole. XD

    Liked by 1 person

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