A few months ago, I wrote this post about outlining a novel vs just free writing. My first novel I did not plan out much before I started writing. I just let the story develop by itself. But after researching some more, I learned that most people outline the whole story of a novel before writing it. So I decided to take that approach with novel #2.
My second book is in two parts, with a time jump in the middle. I was anxious to just begin writing, so I outline the first part, knowing I'd do the second half later. However, once I got through the first, I let the second half develop on its own. While I was doing that, I got to know my characters better, and ended up going back to the first part and adding in chapters, more description, and better transition.
All in all, the outline didn't work for me. I was conforming my charters into the story, instead of letting them take the lead. Once I abandoned my outline, the writing came much smoother.
So for me, outlining is NOT the way to go. I need to start with an idea and just go from there. I don't know if that's right or wrong, but if it works for me, then I think it's the best way to go.
What do you do when you start your novel. Is it more helpful to free right, or outline first? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below!