Do you have an outline?
If you were going hiking and you asked us, “What’s the one thing I have to have that most people forget?” We would say, “Water.” Of course! You have to have water. But have you ever left on a journey, maybe a vacation or even a hike, and forgot to pack something essential? Maybe it was water. You wouldn’t be the first person to leave a water bottle in the car.
Often on the writing journey, writers leave something essential behind too: an outline.
An outline is an essential part of your writing journey, like water is an essential part of any hike.
You might be surprised that a lot of writers when asked if they have an outline, respond that they don’t. “I know where I’m going,” or the classic response, “I have an idea.”
An idea of where you want to go with your book is great. That’s a start. An outline is like a map of your book. It’ll help you get where you want to go faster.
“If you don’t have an outline, write one now.”
Let us put it another way. A legitimate concern is, how much do you need to know before plunging into writing that book? An outline gives you that answer. “I know this much about my book," an outline says. Beginning a book without knowing all the terrain is not a comfortable feeling. Writing a book is so hard that it keeps most people away from the keyboard. An outline can help you navigate the terrain and provide a level of comfort that makes the process easier.
As literary agents, we are going to ask, “Do you have an outline?” It’s the writers that respond, “Yes, it’s right here,” that gives us, as agents, a chance to go deeper into the conversation. A great idea without an outline is still a great idea, but an idea WITH an accompanying outline is a dynamic duo. It’s much tougher to say “No” when a writer has done that work, and it’s also an easy way for literary agents to amplify the ideas.
Suddenly your book has generated a lot of momentum.
That momentum will help guide you through the process of writing your book. When you get stuck, and you will, that’s normal, an outline is a handy thing to refer to. Instead of being stuck, you’re reviewing your outline. You have a handle on the situation.
It’s almost as good as a canteen of water on a long hike.
Take Action: If you’re serious about writing a book, you’ve got to take the e-course we've created, "How Do I Know If I Have a Good Book Idea." We'll teach you exactly what you need to know: how to identify, shape, and position the RIGHT book idea. Click here to learn more.