I’ll just get this out of the way right now. I fucking hate outlining. I know some novelists swear by it, but I’m not in that crowd. I admit, it is necessary if you’re writing fantasy or Sci-Fi. I’d even suggest it’s necessary for horror writing and even thrillers. Since I’m working on several projects, two Sci-Fi and one fantasy, outlining is essential. But sometimes, I like the idea of writing by the seat of my pants–making shit up as I go. It’s thrilling to discover what you can write on the fly; tapping into that subconscious mind and coming up with reveals, twists and thickening subplots all in real time.
I don’t outline my work to such an extent that I’m “married” to the outline. I try to give myself some wiggle room to think of things on the spot. Currently, I’m outlining a novel I’ve been writing for nearly four years (maybe longer than that, I’ve lost count). I feel that with each new idea, revision and rewrite, I’m closing in on the novel I really want to write. Begrudgingly, I’m finding that outlining is helping. I also have an amazing program called Scrivener. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of outlining and helps keep all my research and outlines in one central place. Very convenient and easy to use. It was originally for Macs, but PC owners can share the love too.
I enjoy researching as part of the novel-writing experience, but I’m not totally in love with outlining. Go figure.
Do any of you outline your work prior to writing? Do you write without an outline? Do you do a little bit of both? Share your thoughts.