I’m the kind of person who writes without an outline. I’ve tried to use one. It ends up feeling too constrictive and then I never follow it anyway. Usually I have a general sense of where the story is going and a few plot points along the way, but I have no idea how I’m going to get there. This can be a little scary. For Thief of Hope, which I’d initially written a long time ago, I had to throw out most of the book and start over because I realized it needed a major overhaul. So I basically knew how I wanted it to end (even that changed a bit by the time I was done), but the path to that end was a question. I would start with an idea for a chapter and I’d have to write to see where it would take me. Sometimes I’d think a chapter needed some action and throw in an obstacle or something to make it more exciting. That resulted in the story taking some odd twists and turns I never expected. Luckily I didn’t write myself into any corners that I couldn’t figure my way out of.
The sequel, Thief of Destiny, is taking shape in much the same way. I think I know one piece of the ending, but everything else is up in the air. Before I started, I wrote down a bunch of notes and ideas. I’ve used some of them and may use a few more before I’m finished. I didn’t even try to write an outline. Writing to find out what’s going to happen to my characters is part of the fun.
It seems like there are two kinds of writers: those who use detailed outlines (I think these would be helpful for things like mysteries, actually), and those who wing it and write without a net. In the end, it’s the finished product that matters, but as a writer, I’m always curious about how others approach their craft. At least I don’t have to worry about giving away the end of a work in progress if I don’t know it yet!