Do we outline?
Isn’t it dangerous not to outline?
Yes, but … you could almost say that our first draft is the outline.
Outlining a story almost always cuts down time to write, and cuts down then number of major rewrites. I suspect it’s a little like making the transition from writing by hand to writing direct to the computer. The process is slower to start with, but the more you do it the more comfortable you become with it, and the easier it becomes.
Some professional writers outline, some don’t. Some do a hybrid of both methods.
For the moment we’re happy to write a very rough first draft, use that as the outline, and expand on that. It’s a long, hard way to write a novel, but it seems to work for us.
I suspect that over time we will outline more, particularly if we ever go professional.
Why don’t we outline now?
Because we don’t really know a story until we finish the first draft. We don’t know what’s happening; we don’t know the characters. We talk about the story a lot while we are writing that first draft. Where it’s going, what’s happening with it.
The main problem with not outlining are the holes in the plot that arise as a result of the story evolving.
A plot thread that was important when you started writing becomes inconsequential. Other, originally minor threads assume greater importance and need to be changed accordingly.
Outlining keeps you organised, ordered, and sometimes I think that the way we go at a book is a little like cleaning house by moving all the junk from one room to another, cleaning that room, and moving the junk somewhere else, but never really getting rid of the junk until we have cleaned the house.