The outline usually begins with an idea that you have. You write it down then the thought flourishes as more and more is added to the idea. Outlining enhances the creative juices within you.
Outlining is just another term used for organizing. Through outlining you can see what you need to put where. If writing a story, you’ll need the basic idea, but as the story begins to flow, you’ll need to remember things about the character(s), home, place or year. With the outline you can logically place the facts, have them on hand as you do your research, then go about fleshing out your story.
All stories are created from one main source, your mind. A writer creates with words so it is vital to write those words down. If a story comes out of just one word, start jotting down the ideas so you can understand them better.
As in all writing, whether a story, article, essay or novel, you will have a beginning middle and end. With the outline you may want to take notes as to what you will have in the beginning, this is the ‘draw the reader in’ phase. You’ll set up the problem that will eventually be resolved. This is the foreplay.
Your middle will have what is keeping your reader reading, all the juicy surprises, arising conflicts, and climaxes. The outline will be a time-line of actions for you to remember.
The end will near and as you head back down the slope you will give the reader a resolution, the happyily (or not so happy) ever after.
With an outline you will be able to visually see what happens in Chapters 1-5 because you will note the high points and use them as guides. It will also help with consistency. You can have Bill die in chapter four, but you might accidentally mention him as being alive in chapter ten. The outline helps you in your consistency checks.
So what are we going to do writers? Are we going to free-write an entire novel and get lost and confused in the revision stages? Maybe, but it is much wiser to have an outline to lead you down the journey of completion.