I prefer to outline before writing because a simple outline helps me organize my thoughts. Here are more reasons:
Structure. Outlining a manuscript makes it easier to write and to develop a structure in which to tell the story. The purpose of the structure is to tie the characters into the beginning and move them forward in a plot and at a particular pace toward the middle and ending. An outline allows me to pinpoint what the character wants, why he wants it, the conflicts confronting him, and how/where he challenges the obstacles.
Brainstorming tool. I can try out ideas in an outline. If they don’t work, it’s much easier to correct at this early stage than when I reach the middle of the story I’m writing.
Keeps me on path. If I know where my story is headed (ending) when I begin the project, I’m less likely to veer off path. Veering off path leads to major rewrites. This doesn’t mean that I have to limit the story to the outline. However, an outline helps me easily figure out if the new idea works into the original plan of action.
Details. It enables me to be thorough, to include the vital details in the storyline.
Next week, I’ll list more reasons why a simple, easy outline helps me be more productive.