This article in the Evolutionary copywriting series is all about:
Once you’ve done your research—including what topics are trending—it’s time to decide on your angle and put together an outline.
People approach writing from different places, whether you…
- begin with an outline
- or make one mid-project and backtrack during edits,
having an outline keeps you from rambling.
It also provides a way to double-check your work. An outline allows you to determine if you’re catching all the important points?
First, here are some tools to help you put together your outline.
It may seem like overkill. Even in the shortest writing formats—blogposts and articles—the information you’re sharing needs to fit into some kind of context. I don’t care if you are a right brain thinker, and petty bourgeois analytical devices stifle your creative process. You still have readers who favor their left brains.
Find links to LOW COST or NO COST outlining tools on this link. I found these on the Quora forum. The paid plugins require only a nominal fee.
I’m using a free tool in the photo called The Outliner of Giants.
I’ve given an example of how the tool works. The line in red is the overall topic. The next level down Step One is black. All siblings to this area also in black. Subordinates to Step One and its siblings appear in green.
I further separated the siblings through parallel wording: Step One, Step Two… the idea is to make things easy to decipher at-a-glance.
I also opened the line item toolbar under “Rinse well…” so you can see how easy it is to add and format each new entry.
If outlining feels too rigid, you can find 24 mind mapping tools here, some free. This list was compiled by Mashable.
I like to mind map. It’s enjoyable.
Even if mindmapping works better, an outline can still be useful. Especially when working on a long piece. Having the ability to view your narrative structure at-a-glance saves time.
Ideas to help with your outline approach:
- chronological – date and time, first to last
- spatial – left to right, top to bottom
- easiest to hardest
- simplest to most complex
- most important to least important
And vice versa.
You might remember from the article on writing your lede or opening paragraph, that in journalistic writing, you start an article with the most important information, and then tie off loose ends until you’ve hit bottom.
That premise has served the publishing community well for centuries. You can’t go wrong if you use that format.
To close here’s what we’ve covered so far in our Survival of the Fittest Copywriting Evolution series:
The next article in the Copywriting Evolution series is about:
- Credibility and testimonials
Photo credits: Intuitive mind map courtesy of Paul Foreman. Tool Screenshot is from The Outliner of Giants online tool. The hand drawn mindmap is by yours truly.Survival of the Fittest: the Outline Stage of Copywriting by Rita Mailheau