Do you Outline your story?

To outline a story or not, that is always a big topic amongst writers and readers. I've come across many different types of responses and the best answer I could give is that I do what works best for me. I believe that everyone's process for creating a story is their own unique method that will continuously evolve.

notes in the columns for reminders and basic outlining that helps staying on track or with ideas for future revisions/editing

As you can see above in Book One of THE HELIO SERIES: A JOURNEY'S PROMISE manuscript I made my own notes in the margins but not much else. It was handwritten with the goal of two pages a day minimum. This wasn't an easy task as to the type of distractions I had going on around me all the time but I managed to get it completely finished in just under five months. This is my first novel, an epic fantasy with magical realism, which is a HUGE task to tackle with no outlining. I just began writing, one word, a sentence, and a page at a time until I found the ending of the story some 400+ pages later.

Did not outlining help or hinder? Well, it made things difficult because of the magnitude of this story but it also allowed me some creative opportunities. When I outline a story (I did much better for the sequel in the series) I feel as if the story is already cemented in the direction of the outline, but in A JOURNEY'S PROMISE (AJP) I didn't have a concrete game plan or outline. I was writing by the seat of my pants and letting big reveals pop out of nowhere in my mind. Some days I would go to sleep thinking the story would keep down the path it was on the day before only to have a new idea the next day that I thought was better and changed course. The freedom to be able to change was a relief but by the end I knew that I needed to create a hybrid type of outline that would work better. The sequel to AJP I created a more fluid outline where I left opportunities to change course if needed.

Everyone writes the way that works best for them. Do I encourage outlining? Yes, to a degree, but if you have trouble staying on course or find yourself losing your writing momentum, then I suggest a more stringent outline to help out. I enjoy writing without an outline for the most part and will continue to do so, but I will create some form of outline for larger projects that require distinct settings and multiple timelines or flashbacks.

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