Why I write with an outline

There is a saying in Hollywood, “Paper is cheaper than film.” That means it is always easier to experiment and work out story issues in the script before you start trying to film the movie. I find a similar thing is true of writing novels.

Outlines are faster than novels.

When I write I use an outline for anything larger than a short story. I find it is an essential part of my tool-kit in learning what my story really is and how to make it work to the best possible advantage. In the outline I can experiment with plot developments and twists. I can have a characters captured, killed, or ignored and see how that affects the overall plot and the other characters. If something doesn’t work, I have not wasted dozens of pages, perhaps thousands of words and who knows how many hours chasing down the wring path.

I understand not all writers can use the outline method. When I go to convention sometimes I feel like I am the token outline using author there and everyone else in the world simply fires up their favorite word-processors and the characters take off on adventures. I cannot do that. I have to know how my story is going to end. To get to that ending I have to have an outline. It’s like a map. I may go off the trail here and there exploring things as they pop-up, but the map lets me know which way is out.

I have had a major breakthrough in my understand of my next novel, ‘Cawdor.’ Because I am still in the outline stage it is easy for me to go back and incorporate all the new ideas and ramifications in the story without having to tear down and re-write most of a novel.

I cannot comprehend writing any other way.