Outlines Are Your Friends

In a post, long long ago, I wrote about the types of outlines that you can do, and though I could go over it again, it would be better to explain why it’s a good idea to use it for your paper.

One good reason to include it is because your instructor is going to require it. Usually they require it because the format of the paper requires it. They will also ask for it as a sort of checklist to see if you are following a sort of consistency within your paper. Often they will ask for a copy before you turn your paper in so they can have an idea of what your paper is about and will be able to discuss the paper with you with any questions or suggestions.

In the same thought, you can use it as a checklist for yourself. Especially when you are going through your first draft, an outline is a good guide for the flow of your paper. For your research, an outline is good for you to figure out where to put each piece of your research.

The best part is that when you are working on an outline, you will figure out what your introduction and conclusion will include. Since they are summaries of your paper, the same thing as your abstract, the body of your outline is helpful to get a proper grip on wording for these sections. Especially if you’re like me and each bullet is a one sentence summary of that point.

So don’t be afraid of your outline. It’s there to help you and show you that you got this. Just be sure that you understand what your topic is and have your research done before you get started. Before you know it, your outline will become fleshed out and can span more than just a page or two. Go for it!

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2 thoughts on “Outlines Are Your Friends

  1. I completely agree with your opinion on the value of outlining, Jessica. Not only useful in short documents like essays and short thesis papers, it is a wonderful tool to have as a novelist.

    In high school, I always performed better on essay examinations when I prepared an organized outline before I started writing. In college, I consistently used indent-style outline method when I took class notes or summarized textbook passages–which made study preparation easier for examinations. Practicing outlining in school helped quite a lot once I started writing novel series.

    Normally, I first-draft by the seat of my pants; then, I return to the manuscript to prepare a light story outline from it. From there, I buff up the light outline, work a date-time calendar into it, primary story arc, secondary plot lines, locations, and even seasonal details whenever possible.

    For a series, outlines are vital: Character introduction and evolution, the connecting series themes, and especially as reference tool for later books in a series all benefit from foundation outlines upon which later novels build.

    Great article (and the linked one is as well). Part of redrafting any written document is organizing inspiration which comes unexpectedly, and an outline is the perfect tool to incorporate that inspiration into a smooth narrative.

    • I’m glad you liked the post Jess! At first many people don’t realize the need for outlining, me especially. For myself, outlining never worked for me until I reached college and from there I use it for all summarizing from scenes to posts on this site.

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