In spite of my handy, dandy outline, I’m already revising part one of my current MS. Such a revision is exactly what I was hoping to avoid by having an outline, but in this case it had more to do with tweaking my hero, than with changing major story events. In light of this, you might be wondering if I’d consider the outline a failure.
In fact, I’m surprised to find that it’s making my life easier, and actually helping with the creative process. When scene ideas come to me, I wedge them into the outline to see how they fit and affect the scenes around them, making other changes as necessary.
Even more importantly, when I’m stuck and not sure what to write, I go back to the outline—stored conveniently in a Scrivener document within my project—and figure out what needs to come next. It provides direction. I can still get there any way I want.
The outline isn’t written in stone. In fact, it get tweaked (usually in minor ways) frequently, but for the most part, my major turning points have stayed the same. It’s the arches in between the pillars that change. The highway between cities that sometimes requires a detour.
I like to think of my outline as a WIP just like my MS: fixed, but easily modified. It’s definitely not a tool that I’m ready to draw a chalk outline around.