How To Use Outlines for Writing

I know, they were a pain in those high-school essays.

For any piece of writing you’re going to work on, however, it’s usually a good idea to make an outline.You don’t have to do it the formal way with Roman numerals and whatnot, though.

This won’t be a deep discussion of the many outlining strategies that exist. That’s your job. You’re a writer, and one of the things a writer must do is research. Get a library card and use it – a lot. Libraries have a wealth of information from published experts and others. You’ll also find a wealth of information on the Internet (just proceed with caution).

Do you know anyone who is an expert on your topic? Interview them! Formally or informally, it really doesn’t matter. Whichever way will get you the most information.And last, but definitely not least, just be creative. Find you own sources of information. (You’d be amazed how much the cat can teach you).

The moral of the story is, keep your work organized by using an outline. Here’s how:

1. Open your word processor.

2. Type down all the main elements of your story/article/piece.

3. Rearrange items until you’re happy with where everything falls.

4. Write.

At some times you may prefer to just start writing, and that’s fine – as long as you’re willing to do the editing and rearranging later. If you’re anything like me, you don’t really mind editing. But if you do, then use an outline!

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