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Learn to outline

Even if you hate it, try it.

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

For the longest time, I hated outlining. I despised it. Whenever someone told me to use one, I'd roll my eyes and resist.

It always felt like it took the energy out of the writing. There was no discovery or surprise left when I wrote the draft.

Then I started working with my writing partner, and we learned early on that we needed an outline. It helped us stay on the same path toward the same destination.

It also made me realize that it isn't written in stone. We could toss it out, rearrange it, or do whatever we wanted. It was only a rough version.

But it also allowed us to test our story ideas before we put the deep labour into them. And its compact size allowed us to see the shape of our story—the highs and lows, the multiple storylines, and how often characters appeared.

I know you may not like them. Perhaps like I did, you downright hate them. I understand.

But it's another tool in the toolbox. You don't need to use it all the time—I certainly don't. But knowing you can reach for it when you need it, whether at the start, during, or at the end of a draft, can be a quick way to figure out your structure and improve it.


David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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