I am familiar with the concept of using an outline first before you start your novel. I've been in an audience and listened to authors discuss the subject, more than once actually, and it seemed that the big-time authors usually were the onces who used outlines.
Which falls in line with my sales figures for the year. Of the nine books I have written, I've used an outline for only one, and that's because the outline was already created. That book isn't out yet. It's called Pocket Hole, and it started off as a graphic novel. I put the graphic novel together with my friend AJ Bell and we released a first issue. Looked great.
We got stalled on the second issue though, so I decided to try and convert the graphic novel into a full-on novel. The thumbnails for the whole story were done, so really, I had more than an outline, I had an outline with pictures. The novel came together quick and easy and it's really a fun book. Like I said, I'll probably put it out in a month or two.
Anyways, since then I've written another book, without using an outline, and now I'm starting the latest, which will be a big book (first in a trilogy) and it won't be set in this world. At least not beyond the first chapter. So, I'm doing a little world creating and I think an outline might help.
We'll see. The outline is done and I'm 40,000 words into the story. I can't tell if the outline is leaching spontaneity out of the story or not, which is my worry.
So far, I don't think so, but I think I've learned something.
Certainly, I love the discovery part of writing when I am in the middle of a story and I have no idea what is going to happen next. I have my eyes set on a fixed point for sure, but the ground I need to travel in between is uncertain. It's so much fun.
I released Alone with you Somehow recently. It's a horror novel, and I don't think it would have been as good as it is if I had been working from an outline. This is just a theory. One of the pulls of horror though, the distinction between horror and maybe a thriller with monsters, is that horror is more about the not knowing what you should fear state, not quite seeing in full the creature waiting in the shadows. When even the author doesn't know what's coming next, I wonder if that somehow adds to the unease of the reader? An element in the writing that on some level conveys the idea that the bad thing is so bad the author himself wants to put off meeting it as long as he can.
The book I am writing now doesn't need that. It will be a YA or sorts, my Harry Potter knock off. Yeah, that's right, Harry Potter. What does that make me, only two or three years late on this one? Surely all the knock offs have been written by now. Oh, contraire! I haven't read too many of the HP derivatives out there, but has a series come out that deserves the label of the American Harry Potter? I would have heard of that one I'm sure.
So, American Harry Potter. I probably won't go with that title, but look for the first book in about a year.