How to Use an Outline to Fix Your Novel’s Pacing Problems

Using an outline is an indispensable way to write a novel faster, and deliver a high-quality manuscript. Nonetheless, outlining has always been a touchy issue, with some renowned authors like Stephen King claiming that it’s not necessary. But he is indeed the Stephen King; the chances are that you will need an outline to whip up a flowing story and to pace yourself.

How to Use an Outline to Fix Your Facing

Even before we delve right into it – why should you outline your novel?

  • Pacing: again, outlining allows you to create pace yourself. This way, you can create milestones for the plot, story, and characters and stick to it.
  • Know what to write next: are you susceptible to writer’s block? If yes, then a good outline might be your best shot at well-paced writing.
  • Allows you to change the plot or infuse new ideas: an outline helps you have a clear glimpse of your storyline. It is only this way that you can alter the plot in whichever way that makes your novel better.
  • Help you find plot holes and issues: with a clear outline, plot holes are easily discernible

How to Outline to Pace Yourself

There are numerous ways in which you can outline your novel in order to pace your writing. Here are important ones:

Use Basic Documents

Create a Word file and get on with outlining. Map out a table with each chapter filled with actions, scenes, key plots, and so forth. You can have a separate list of themes, ideas, and POV characters. You can also have a different file for research and story ideas. If a spreadsheet sounds like your cup of tea, try Microsoft Excel. Both pieces of software make outlines searchable and easily editable. Don’t forget to annotate timelines on your timeline. This way, you can pace yourself without much hassle.

Use Mind-Mapping

This approach allows you to brainstorm randomly. You can mind-map on story ideas, plot lines, characters, and the rearrange the maps into a more inclusive and clear picture. Even this initial stage of outlining will give a rough idea of how to proceed.

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Try The Snowflake Method

A brainchild of R. Ingermanson, the Snowflake Method helps your design everything for your novel. The method stipulates that you start small then expand on each section of the outline. It certainly helps you to pace your writing. If you have difficulty working with Word and Excel, then this method will be a huge reprieve.

Creating an outline can do wonders for your pacing; try above ways to make the whole process effortlessly easy.

Outlining After the Draft

Writing down an outline after you’ve written the story can identify pacing problems and plot holes which can cause them. Not only will you be forced to read through each of your chapters and summarize each one for your outline, you’ll also be able to find sections of the story that do/don’t work well. You’ll be able to read some chapters quicker than other, which is good if that’s what you’re going for, but if you have a scene that should have been paced a little slower and ends too quickly you can add bits into it.

So, when do you outline? Before or after your first draft? I’d love to know, so drop me a note in the comments!