To Outline or Not To Outline

From what I’ve read, there are two kinds of writers: those who outline (outliners) and those who don’t (seat-of-the-panters). I’m an outliner. I’ve tried writing without one, but my work tends to drift off in strange directions, then I’ve got to delete a ton of it, get back on track, and waste lots of writing hours going nowhere. So I’ve learned my lesson. I think through the story, get the basic direction written down, then dive in.

I have a feeling I’ve gone off the deep end this time. My newest work-in-progress is so thoroughly outlined, it’s almost kind of boring when I sit down to write it out dramatically. There are no surprises–at least, there aren’t at this point, and I’m 12,000 words into it. Yeah, it comes out really fast, but there’s no mystery here. I don’t find myself surprised by a turn of events, or thrilled when a character does something unpredictable and fun. I know I’m in charge of all these things, so there really shouldn’t be any mystery or surprise or thrill… and yet, I remember, in other works, when something unexpected showed up and knocked the socks–er, flippers–off my feet. I kind of miss those moments.
How about you, fellow writers? Have you ever over-outlined and sucked all the joy out of the writing? If so, how’d you get the magic back without sacrificing the entire work?


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