The outline, is it important? In my opinion, hell yes. Writing an outline is beneficial when creating your novel, here’s why:

Outlining your novel is setting up main events that occur in your book. Don’t freak out, an outline is not written in the stars. You can change your mind along the way. It’s much like a fight. Your opponent the ‘Evil Lord of White Space’ and his minions have nothing better to do then challenge you at every turn. Lets fight back, an outline is like having a trainer to lead you through the match.

Before I have an outline I always know what type of story I’m writing. Since I referenced fighting in the above paragraph I will outline a story about a fighter. Now I have to decide what my main goal is. Why should I tell this story? I find too many authors share stories that are boring, make no sense, and have no reason being put to page. Just because you can write something doesn’t mean you should. I like having meaning to my work.

Back to my fighter story. First off, where do I start? How about a match?

A story about a fighter, he is on the wrong side of life, living in darkness. He has no future, forced to work for a criminal organization. Orion can only dream of the life he wanted, he tried to get away from them after a stint in prison but that led to the deaths of those he cared for and the capture of his son.

Chapter 1 – Start with action
Orion is in the middle of a match. He’s in a construction yard, forced to fight my the criminals that have his son. They want the construction company, the crime boss believing in the old ways, appointed Orion as his champion. The construction company brought in a ringer, four time Pavement Basher champion. Orion is half his size, not even close to having his strength and he must win, he has much more to lose. The match is hard, Orion gets thrown around but something within him fights on. With a possible broken arm, Orion knocks the basher out. The criminals cheer and he is given time to see his son.

Chapter 2 – build drama and obstacles
Orion meets with his young son, possibly between 6 to 12 years old. They play some games, eat some pizza and do all the things Dax wants to do. Then Orion’s handler Mr. Harper enters, he tells Orion time’s up and he’s needed again. Orion watches as servants take his son away, crying, begging to go with him. “Please don’t leave me here dad!” Whether he knows it or not, Orion has made the decision to make the men that destroyed his life pay for what they did.

Outlining gives you the benefit of not sitting around, bashing face into keyboard, trying to figure what else to write. Now you don’t have to go chapter by chapter like I started. Having an idea of where your story is going will help you bang out those pages, and force your enemy ‘Evil Lord of White Space’ to lose ground and begin his retreat.

There’s a problem, always is. Of course you can change your outline; incorporate new plots, ideas, and twists into the story, why shouldn’t you? I mean if I wanted to add the fact Orion caused this because he took over enforcing when his father passed away, or change the timeline switch chapter 2 and make that chapter 1. Possibilities are endless.

Some authors feel writing an outline stifles their creativity. On more then one occasion I got into a zone with my battle against the ‘Evil Lord of White Space’ unfortunately when I looked back to my outline I had gone a completely different direction. I was horrified, what had I done? That’s why I have to share an outline is flexible, it’s just a map to show that your story is going somewhere

In the end, it’s not an apocalypse if you don’t follow the outline to the last word. Take a deep breath, refresh that coffee and come to terms with the fact that tweaking the outline is part of the process. Enjoy your work because if you don’t nobody else will.

Ian Desabrais