How to Write a Draft in 16 Days – Part 2 #writingtips #indieauthors #writers

Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Articles | 3 comments

I used to be opposed to using outlines in fiction writing. I found them useful for essays. For blog posts. For reports.

But not for story telling.

My arguments were pretty much the same as everyone else I’ve met who is against them:

It stifles creativity.
I can’t come up with the answers on the fly; I need to know my characters.
I won’t adhere to it even if I do make one.
It seems like a lot of work. I just want to write, ya know.

Let me say this loud and clear:

I was wrong.


It doesn’t stifle creativity.

Some facets of the story are going to develop organically, regardless of an outline or not. If anything, I find I have more room to be creative, because I don’t have to keep all the other moving parts aligned in my head. I can see, practically at a glance, if this twist is going to pan out or not. And if not, then I can see if it’s feasible to tinker around and make it work.

I can, in fact, come up with answers on the fly.

Well, enough to create an outline. The thing is, outlines don’t require every tiny detail to be worked out. It’s a big picture. As much as I doubted it, I really can come up with the major points before I dive in. I bet you can, too.

You don’t have to adhere to the outline.

Chances are, you’re going to change some aspects as you write, especially if you were a little wordy with your outline. Instead of our hero paying for a boat ride, we find an opportunity for him to sneak on-board. It doesn’t really matter to the outline. And, in the event you do feel compelled to change a major plot point, you, yet again, can see at a glance what else will need changed too. After using the outlining method on four manuscripts, I can say that I have never had any drastic issues with it.

It’s not a lot of work.

I generally write up an outline in a day. Okay, it actually takes about an hour, but I’m giving room to mull over the points if I jumped into the outline without much prior thought. Considering how little I tend to have to revise after using an outline, the pay off is way less long term effort in exchange for a little extra at the beginning. And I do mean a little.

Now that we have all this out of the way, the next post will be the exact outline I have been using and all the details to go with it.

Have you used an outline to write before? How did it work out for you? If you haven’t tried one, why not?

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  • natashalarry

    Great post.

    • Rainy Kaye

      Thanks :) <3

  • Sarah

    I have countless one-page attempts at outlines on my computer, and a couple more that have grown into monsters as the story develops in my head. I started making them because I had woken up in the middle of the night with a great idea, yet didn’t write it down so that I forgot it by morning, just one time to many. Now I make sure to write an ‘outline’ even if it’s one line. It really helps me write a piece without feeling I’ve missed out on a great split-second idea through forgetfulness. Sometimes just reading the outline can inspire new ideas too.