I do not outline. Or at least not when you are supposed to outline, which is, before the story is written. I tried that. I was forced to do that in school. It was fine for essays and research papers, yet horrid for fiction. Outlines made my stories too formulated. It also made me make decisions I wasn’t ready to make yet.
The reason I start a story in the first place is a scene occurs to me that is so engrossing I must write the story that surrounds it. All my efforts are for that one encounter to happen. Writing is the mechanism for my imagination to take shape.
“Solstice Night” was the first story I ever actually put to paper. I could picture the two main characters clearly. I almost heard the thumping of the music of the bar. I knew the floor was polished concrete and what clothes they were wearing, but I didn’t even know their names yet. I only knew they had to meet.
Exposition is the easiest part for me to write. The origin stories of super heroes always fascinated me. After my stories begin, after that pinnacle moment of meeting, I work backwards. I craft the world and circumstances for the characters to meet. Moreover, I have to create a world that would make them who they are. I write scenes, then work out the logistics. Writing gives the author full control over how much detail to include. When arriving at a scene, decisions must be made. Such as how did the characters get there (plane, train automobile), do you include mundane details (eating, sleeping), can you say the same thing simpler? A writer can bring the reader in with a single line or pages and pages of description.
Introducing new characters is a great way to progress the story. The dialog with new characters is natural place for backstories to occur. It gives the writer a chance to explicitly tell the reader key parts of the story.
When I outline, it is to help me actually finish a story. I love starting stories, but complete very few. My outline is a list of the remaining scenes. Under each scene I write either what the character is feeling or what I hope to accomplish with the scene. That reminds me why the scene is important and mood when I write it. The outline now is both guide and checklist. I have a strong foundation in the story to direct my decisions on how it should end. The characters aren’t a generic hero or heroine. I understand who they are and what they are capable of physically, emotionally and morally. With this type of outline, the action becomes more organic. It is more believable because the reader and writer arrive by the same method. They come to the conclusion through the story.