Does anyone else feel like the sole purpose of outlines is to be thrown away?
Maybe my characters are just particularly unruly, but it seems like the second I sit down to type, my careful planning goes out the window. Oh, sure, elements of it remain; but I generally have to re-outline halfway through, and then that one gets tossed as well.
The funny thing is, I can’t work without an outline, even if it’s not what I’m writing. For example, last week, I got to a point in my manuscript where I had just strayed too far from my plan, and I got stuck fast. I knew what needed to happen, but there were too many scenes and parallel timelines getting tangled up in my head. I wrote and scribbled and doodled and made arrows and charts and it all failed. Finally, I stuck my little Scout in her stroller and dragged my husband out for a walk so that I could talk it through in the open air with lots of wild hand gestures.
It worked! The sequencing was clear, all the characters were taken care of, and everything had its place. We walked home, I made a simple, neat flow chart, and was satisfied. The next day, I sat down to write what I had charted the day before.
And that darn Cabel went veering off into left field, taking all the other characters with him.
So my flow chart is relatively obsolete, but at least parallel enough to what’s really happening that I can keep leaning on it.
What about you other outliners? Do you stick pretty close to what you’ve planned, or do you find yourself writing something completely different?