Usefulness of an Outline

I’ve had to do an outline, a rather detailed one, for the second book in my series this week. This is rather difficult, as I’m still in the middle of writing the book – second draft, yes, but this is when the majority of details are worked out. I didn’t want to do it, but it’s turned out to be rather useful.

I’m still a fan of writing the first draft straight out, with no planning, and not much forward thinking. I like the way it lets my characters develop by themselves, with no interference, and I enjoy the surprise I get when the story develops in an unexpected direction.

However, the second draft is when I work out details such as timing, other characters, extra scenes. I’ve been just writing it out straight out, with the first draft as guidance. However, writing the outline reminded me of things I may have forgotten. When are these extra characters being introduced? What exactly is the timeline? I’ve forgotten how to make that plot twist happen – how do I fix that?

I’ve got the outline now, beside my first draft (and a layout of the room, and a timeline – my floor is covered in paper) and am using it as guidance. Using it now will, hopefully, mean I have to less to change later. I now have those awkward questions I have to answer before I write, not after.

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