Skeleton outlines (or skeleton drafts) are an important tool for beginner and pro freelancers. Despite their spooky name, they are easy to use and improve your writing speed, efficiency, and structure.
What is a Skeleton Outline?
The key to understanding skeleton outlines lies in the name. It helps you construct the skeleton of your post or article.
Just as your skeleton serves as a frame for your muscles and skin, a skeleton outline creates an outline framework for your copy. It defines the important areas you want to cover and breaks your copy into its most important parts.
Because of its simplicity, a skeleton outline can be used for any type of writing. It’ll have a different look depending on the type of writing, but it will help facilitate your process in every case.
Why Does it Work?
Skeleton outlines are simple, but they can have a massive impact on your writing process. They can also be useful tools for clients to include in briefs to their freelance copywriters too.
Freedom to Be Inspired
It may seem counterintuitive, but outlining your project ahead of time can create more room for inspiration while writing. When you have a general plan for each section of your copy, new ideas are focused around important content instead of the copy as a whole. This makes your creative impulses more effective and useful.
In the same way, planning the structure of your copy with a skeleton outline allows you to be more flexible with it during the writing process. You can switch parts around and reorganize them as you’re writing without worrying about losing something important. This minimizes time spent rewriting later and improves your copy’s flow.
Key Points From Your Research
You can spend just as much time researching a topic as you do writing about it. When you begin writing without a plan, that often means you won’t end up using half of the research you find.
Using a skeleton outline informs and focuses your research. You’ll know the key research points you’re looking for and reduce the time it takes to find them.
Helps You Write Faster and More Efficiently
Time is one of the most important considerations in the world of freelance writing. Being able to write quickly and efficiently increases the number of projects you can take on.
It takes some time to build a skeleton outline, but you make up for it with improved writing speed. Skeleton drafts also improve your writing efficiency and reduce the time you’ll spend rewriting.
Every writer knows what it feels like to be “in the zone”. Starting can be slow, but once you’ve been writing for a while you build up momentum and have improved productivity.
Skeleton drafting helps you maintain your writing momentum. Instead of stopping every few minutes to think about the next topic you want to address, it’ll be clearly laid out by the outline.
Fleshing Out a Skeleton Outline
How do you go about creating a skeleton outline? We’ll use a blog post on the best font type as an example.
Choose Your Main Points
The bones of your skeleton outline are going to be the main points you want to discuss or examine in your copy. These should be broad ideas/topics that can be broken down into more specific points.
For our font post, it might look something like this:
The Best Font – Skeleton Outline
Why Does Font Matter?
– Reason 1
– Reason 2
The Best Font – 5 Points
– Font 1
– Font 2
– Font 3
Once you have the bare-bones of your outline down, it’s time to flesh it out. Go back through your outline to nail down what minor points will best support your copy. Feel free to alter the larger points as necessary if you find something isn’t working anymore.
With specifics now to flesh it out, our skeleton draft might look like this:
Comic Sans, the Best Font – Skeleton Outline
Why Does Font Matter?
– First impression of your copy
– Affects the impression of your brand
– Changes in word weight
4 Ways Comic Sans Improves Writing
1. Fun and Fresh
2. Easy to Read
3. Stands Out
(Removed Point 5)
The Worst Fonts
– Times New Roman
Add Facts (You Want to Include)
After you have the main points of your copy and specific supporting points, it’s time to research.
Remember, you don’t have to include everything. Consider what your copy is aimed towards and use facts supporting that goal or conclusion.
Skeleton outlines can be one of your best tools for increasing your productivity and writing speed. They are a simple tool, but sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.
I’ve provided an example of a skeleton outline above, but don’t feel like you have to follow the same format. Experiment with different methods of skeleton drafting in order to find what works best for you.
I’m Already an Experienced Writer. Will Skeleton Drafting Help Me?
Preparation can never hurt your chances of producing quality content and copy. Even if you have years of experience writing without an outline, skeleton drafting will make it easier to plan out your projects and get into the zone while writing.