A growing debate in the writing world is whether or not to outline your novel before you start writing it. Outlining can represent a complete play by play of your entire novel, down to every scene detailed out, or it could just be a simple paragraph, just a few sentences about each chapter to help keep your mind focused on the important parts of your story.
Whatever you choose, every writer is different and what works for one might not work for another.
Are there benefits to outlining, though? And, are they big enough to make you want to consider taking the outlining route before you start your first draft?
FASTER ~ Let's face it, when you know exactly where your story is going, and have detailed out chapters and scenes, getting the story to flow from your brain, down to your fingers, and onto your computer screen is going to be faster.
KEEP YOUR ARCS IN CHECK ~ No reader likes an underdeveloped plot or character, and having an outline allows you to watch both your plot and character arcs to make sure that you have them starting at one point, ending at another, and give them the tools they need to gradually travel through both of the places.
NATURAL PACING ~ Knowing what you want to accomplish with each scene and chapter will help keep you from going off in a different direction. Of course, if that direction is a new avenue that should be considered in the plot, like a mild plot change, then by all means, go with the flow, but if it is just an unneeded twist that drags down your story, it's best to let it go. And, an outline will help keep your pace on track.
FEWER REVISIONS ~ If you know what you want to happen and how you want the story to end, it's easier to write the scenes to get that ending you want. If you are just writing to write the story, you might find that you could go in several different directions because your whole novel was written in several different directions.