I think I’ve mentioned before that I write without an outline. I’ve tried it in the past and found that I’m very constrained. Besides that, I’m lazy and I’d rather write the story rather than spend the time outlining the story, then doing the work all over again.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t write without some expectation of where a story will go. Generally, I write in a linear fashion from A to Z and do have a notion of where the story will go, or I’ve made some rough notes of the next few scenes.
Such is the case with my current Wolf Mallory novel, Dancing with a Dead Man. This is probably the most complex of the Wolf books I’ve written so far, picking up loose ends from the previous book, Can’t Dance Forever, and weaving them into this story which roughly involving a murder and the lost gold of the Confederacy. And of course, as in the other two books of the series, things are not always as they seem.
Given several stops and starts along the way, I’ve managed to write about half the book by this afternoon, and felt my path to the end was fairly clear. That was until these characters surprised me again and my yellow brick road suddenly turned to a morass of wet sand bogging me down.
So now, Wolf is caught in his own web of deceit and about to be exposed. And again, I have to wait for him to tell me how he’s gonna explain his way out of this one.
And to me, that’s the joy in writing. No matter how much I think I know, or how I expect things will go, there’s always that sharp turn in the road that leaves you in a breath taking moment of joy.
So, unless you’re married to an outline, play with your writing. Let it flow, and watch how the expected may turn into the unexpected.