The Pros and Cons of an Outline

6789978-book-and-pencilsIt’s finally November! Aka National Novel Writing Month. Since I am currently working on my sixth book already(before November started) I won’t be participating in the writing a book in a month’s time challenge. I’m still in the write a book before the year’s over challenge which apparently I’m struggling with…

Anyway, Outlines!

I recently just started using outlines in a totally different way before thanks to James Patterson’s Master Class on writing. Wonderful tip about outlining by chapter with details as opposed to my old way which was just bullet points of what’s going to happen. His way is much better because it always you to structure your chapter in ways that you can ensure your readers are going to want to read the next chapter and then the next. So on…

I put this method into action and of course I loved it!

But then I got to thinking…

Like with all things there are pros and cons and I want really look at the pros and cons of writing an outline before you write. Here’s what I came up with:


1. Direction

  • Sometimes you just don’t know where you story is headed, but one pro of the outline is that you can see your story and the direction it’s heading in. This will allow you to create a clear path.


2. See Faults and Gems

  • You’ll be able to spot what works or doesn’t work in your story before you start writing and change it.

3. Save time

  • This goes with point #2 because when you spot things that doesn’t work out, you can save time by fixing it in your outline before writing.

4. Perfect for planners

  • Some people like to plan and some like to write without planning so if you’re a planner outlining is perfect for you!


1. Prohibit Creativity

  • Sometimes if your outline is too detailed you may fill like you can’t any wiggle room to create or change things without having to redo the outline.

2. None preferable for some

  • Some people don’t like to plan when they write and prefer to just let the story carry them where it wants to carry them, so outlining wouldn’t be very helpful in this case.

3. Extra Step

  • Creating an outline would be an extra step in your writing that could take from 30 minutes to days to perfect. This can slow down getting your book written, but for others it’s an important step not to pass up.

Bottom line:

It’s really up to you whether to use an outline, but for me I find it very, very useful because it gets the idea from my head and on to paper. It’s a way that I can assure my story makes sense and not something crazy that my brains made up.

I recommend trying to outline. If you need help, check out my post How to Outline A Novel then get started. Thanks for reading and happy writing!

Do you outline? Share your thoughts about outlines in the comments below.

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About the Author

Shaquanda Dalton

Hello, my name is Shaquanda Dalton and welcome to! I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graudated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Creative Writing. I fell in love with writing at the age nine and love it till this day. :)