I don’t know about you but my fingers have a mind of their own. I’ll get halfway through a sentence and think ‘brilliant!’ mostly because I didn’t realize I’d write that.
The same things go for my plot. I’ll be minding my own business, typing words and hoping they form coherent sentences and then eventually, I’ll be 30 pages in and realize where the story is heading. Granted, this is usually when I just want to stretch my fingers and write with no general direction but with the novel, I’m currently working on, I made sure I had an outline.
Does and outline work?
It’d different for every person. Personally, outlines are great to get the general plot down and get a sense of your character’s personality. I also noted down what would happen in each chapter, allowing me to also know how many chapters the book will have and a general idea of how long it will be.
Granted, I strayed from the chapter-to-chapter run down because i had additional ideas that just flowed better with what I previously wrote. I also ended up having three outlines, which I will get into in a bit.
I know another person who was writing a play or screenwriting (something along those lines. I’m sorry if you’re reading this), she said she became a slave to the outline, writing everything to perfection.
I can see how that can be helpful and for some, that may work perfectly! I think you should give both options a try: loosely outlining your story vs being a slave to your outline.
Of course, you can also find the middle ground.
I wrote outline one a while ago (as in years ago) and when I finally decided to work on the book, I looked back on the outline and realized I didn’t like it very much, so I wrote outline two.
For outline two, I took a few ideas out of outline one and rewrote it fit my up-to-date idea of what I wanted my story to be. Then I worked endlessly on the novel.
I never planned on outline three. Two was more than enough but it turns out, it wasn’t. After my third draft, I realize I needed to add a subplot because it would help engage the reader and keep them flipping so I wrote down exactly what happened in each chapter, and then what I planned to additionally add about the subplot. It was a few words jot notes, but it was enough for me since I already had ideas flowing through my mind (this is dangerous if you plan on writing a month later after you write the outline because you may forget what you planned. Proceed with caution.) Then, I got to work on draft 4.
Moral of my story: Allow your mind to run wild and your fingers to aimlessly fly across the keyboard. Write anything and everything and maybe even nothing, as long as you go back and edit mercilessly (I have yet to reach that stage.)