I’ve been reworking the outline for the second half of my work-in-progress ‘The Peace Cipher.’ As I clear up the muddy third quarter of my second novel, I thought I’d give a plug for using outlines, particularly if a plot has some complexity.
I understand the “pantser” approach to writing has its advantages in terms of discovery for authors and I think that can work well for many. But, I’m finding that the few readers of early drafts of my work are more likely to appreciate the story elements if I’ve outlined extensively compared to when I have not. Again, this may be because of more complex plots, but I find that’s where I find a novelist can offer readers something different.
There are a variety of tools available for writing effective outlines. I like ‘Scrivener’ as a program for that purpose, but the old-fashioned ‘cork storyboard with notecards’ can work just as well. Whatever method of outlining authors choose, I’ve found it yields more helpful suggestions and comments during initial feedback sessions with early readers.