Do you use outlines? Or are you a seat of the pants (SOTP) writer? Or a little of both?
I hated outlining in school; my brain found it difficult to narrow the info down to key points. It's much easier now - I suppose an adult perspective offers a broader view. Breaking down the process helps, and I share these pointers in two of my teen writing classes:
The outline can help keep the writing plan organized and on track. It is like a paragraph or a story; there is a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning is the introduction and includes the opening thoughts. The middle contains supporting facts and the end summarizes and concludes. It helps to break the topic into categories: introduction, body, and conclusion.
Outlines should not contain every little point you intend to make. Highlight the main points as a guide. Formal or informal – whatever your preference, the outline breaks the topic down into manageable and organized pieces.
For small projects, most of my writing is SOTP. I often have a mental outline or a scribbling of notes to aid the process. Larger projects get at least a rough outline. Usually. :) When revising, I often categorize the info as I review the material to make sure I covered everything.
Here are a few links that offer help with outlines:
Perdue Online Writing Lab - This site offers info on outlines, writing, research, citation, and more. It's a valuable resource for junior high through adults; my students and I use it often.
Jeff Goins - Mr. Goins shares wisdom for writers of fiction and non fiction. One tip he shares on this page is to write a table of contents as an outline guide for a book. Hey, this is what I did with my book!
6 Secrets to Writing a Novel Without Outlining - Brian Klems confesses how when in school and required to write an outline for his story, he'd write the story first. I'm pretty sure I did that too.
What's your outline style? Were outlines hard for you in school? Have any tips to share?
P.S. A few of you asked me to let you know when my book, Homeschool Co-ops 101, came out in paperback. It was released last week. :) Check it out here.
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Text content copyright Karen Lange 2013. No part of the text may be used without written permission from author Karen Lange.