I made a plan, earlier this week, that I would blog more. Specifically that I would post something on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. As this is Thursday, and I didn’t post anything yesterday, you can see just how well that plan worked out.
That is about how well it works out for me when I try to outline before I write. I come up with a great plan…and then do something else.
The Rum Runner started out as an experiment in outlining. I wanted to see if I could plan out a whole story ahead of time and stick to it, instead of writing half a story and then trying to figure out where it should go from there.
I had a lovely outline.
Then in the first chapter a fisherman got shot.
That wasn’t in the outline and it ended up shaping the entire story.
One time, I started a new chapter and made a note to myself on what needed to happen in this chapter. A couple of thousand words in (essentially most of the way through the chapter) I hadn’t hit one of those items.
It turns out I’m not so good at sticking to a plan (which I suppose is why I’m not an architect or an engineer), but I do like knowing where my story is going to end up. That chapter that seemed to go off the rails? I did end up getting all the required items in. The outline that didn’t include a dead fisherman? I followed it for almost everything else.
So, to outline or not to outline? The answer is Yes. A little bit of both and whatever works for you.