Benefits of Outlines

Outlines are useful tools in the writer’s toolbox. Even if you write without one, you probably still have one in your head. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you know where you are going with your writing piece. That’s all an outline is – a map to the action of the story.

An outline creates a framework for the piece. It gives you direction as well as ideas of what to write about. A good story has structure. An outline provides you with that structure. It can be a place holder for ideas for scenes and action. It can be quite helpful if you have some idea of where your writing is going. It can help you map out the action.

They help the writer know what should come next in the work. I know. Some of you prefer to write with no idea of where the piece is going or because it seems as though your characters want complete freedom. That’s OK, but an outline can help you achieve the milestones in the story that you want to reach when you want to reach them. An outline helps you stay focused on what the story is about rather than wandering in the mire of unformed ideas.

That’s not to say outlines aren’t without dangers. There are times when an outline is not helpful. If you get too bogged down in details, you find yourself writing the outline over and over again while trying to include everything. The outline is not meant to plan the piece down to each sentence. It’s only meant to provide a broad skeleton of the action, not the action itself. If you spend too much time writing the outline, it can cause you to lose interest in the story. A broad outline is sufficient. Just a brief note of what needs to happen at what point in the story is all you need. Adding too many details can make you feel as though you have already written the story. Leave the details to the writing portion of crafting your story and just note the broadest description of the action.

Overall, outlines help me to write my stories. I know what needs to happen in each act of the story. I can fill in the details as I write the action and introduce my characters. They just keep me moving towards the final scene. I tend to write in a linear fashion, from start to finish. That’s me. Others jump around, writing a scene here and another scene there. It’s good to know where those scenes go and an outline can help with that. It makes the writing flow easier.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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