The thing that I get asked the most as an author is how do you write – meaning, do you outline your project first or do you just jump in. I know there’s so much information out there that says you should outline your project, develop your plot, and characters. But, I’m a little different. I like to see where the story takes me first. Writers know that when you start a project, the characters seem to take over and go where they please. You may have a story about Sally and Jim building a life together in harmony when all of a sudden Sally sees Bob, who’s intriguing in ways Jim is not. The next thing you know Sally is chasing Bob, who has no clue about it and Jim is plotting to kill him because he lost Sally because of him.
Let your characters in your story guide you. You can always come back and outline and develop them a bit once you get going. In fact, I definitely, do that a lot. I jump in and start writing the story and then come back to outline it. I improve my plots as well as the characters by circling back to outline the story. I feel the story is more genuine this way.
However, if you feel that you need a guideline or map, by all means, outline the story. But have the courage to let your stories grow organically. Let your stories breath a life of their own. You’ll be happy you did.