Effective Outlining: Learning from the Outline

During the outlining process, take note of inconsistencies, missing information, and dangling plotlines. These are opportunities to improve the structure, characters, flow, or pacing of the story and should not be ignored.

Consider these questions while outlining and address each one before completing the outline:

  • Do any scenes present an idea that is left hanging?
  • Do any scenes need a bridge to improve the flow?
  • Are any scenes redundant or irrelevant?
  • Are there any plot holes?
  • Are any hints or questions left unanswered?
  • Are any character arcs left unfulfilled?
  • Does the ending provide a satisfying conclusion?
  • Are there any lagging sections where there is little to no progress?

Just as a story takes multiple drafts before reaching completion, so should an outline. Review the first draft of an outline for the issues mentioned above and rework those areas that aren’t working.

And remember…

Outlines should act as a guide, not a box.

Outlining is a great tool for developing all the big-picture aspects of the story, but the process should still leave room for flexibility while writing. The end goal is a great story, not a perfectly followed outline.