You have an idea, and you’d like to turn it into a full-length story. You aren’t quite sure about the details yet, but you’re getting there. When should you begin outlining it?
Coming up with new ideas may make your head spin with possibilities. This may make you want to wait to outline your story, as you may have things a little more hammered down in time. However, an outline can help you figure things out too.
An outline can give you a way to view your story outside of your brain, which can help you really organize your thoughts. Remember that nothing is set in stone on your outline. This should be a fluid file that is changing as you develop your plot and characters. It should allow you to be flexible, making it the perfect thing to work on early in the process.
Seeing your story written out like this can allow you to get a better understanding of what you have and what you will need to make this into a marketable piece. It will show you what needs work, and will let you expand in areas that need it and move around things so they will make more sense and garner additional interest from the reader.
An outline is also a great place to try new ideas out and see how they work in your story overall. It can help you remember ideas you had, and help you organize them in a logical manner.
This can then be used when you are writing your drafts so you can stay focused and make sure you are getting everything in your story that you wanted to. This can save you a lot of time in the long run, as you will likely make changes to your outline prior to fleshing things out in your writing which is a much lengthier process.