I’m not a hard outliner as a writer. Maybe I should be, maybe if I did more prep for stories they would go faster, but I just don’t seem to be able to do it. Having said that, I’m not what’s commonly called a pantser. I have an outline, just not a detailed one.
The way I outline actually comes from a teaching technique I learned… well, maybe more of a classroom management technique, at a seminar last year. The idea is minimal rigid structure. Basically, when I am creating my framework (whether it’s a lesson plan or an outline for a book) I create as little of it as possible, to allow for room for growth. That’s the minimal part. The little structure I do create is essential. If the book doesn’t have these points, why the hell did I bother to write it? If the lesson doesn’t touch on these topics, why did I teach it?
An outline for one of my books might look like “Vampire and human meet, they fall in love. Over the years they meet many, many times but at every point one of them isn’t ready for him to turn her into a vampire. In the end, she dies of old age in his arms while he watches the sunrise” (note: this is an actual outline for an actual WIP… sorry for the spoilers). The book is planned to be a novel, probably on the shorter side, but definitely longer than A Long Walk. So, I fill in the details from there. The current iteration of the outline has grown quite a bit. Hell, it’s almost a full page long. The details of the story though, they are freeform. Now, having said that, I also fill in the story out of order. I wrote the opening paragraph of that story first, then I wrote the last page. I’m still writing all the stuff that comes between those points.
So, minimal, rigid structure. Those events, those points, they all have to happen. Everything else, it supports those moments, and if it doesn’t I get rid of it or change it.