Don't you just love when one of your characters talks to you as your writing your first draft? My lead character in my new YA book suddenly revealed to me that his brother was killed in Iraq. Really? Never knew that! Store that away for future reference.
That's why I generally don't start a book with an outline. To me, the essential parts to know before you start a book is the beginning, middle and end. Where does your hero start, what causes him or her to go on a journey, and where do they end up. The rest is just discovery.
Stephen King wrote once that writing is like archeology. You uncover the story. If you spend too much time trying to plot it out and outline it, you might as well as the verbs and adjectives and write the dang thing.
Now that's just me. Others need a complete roadmap before they set out, and that's fine. It's a lot less daunting - you know exactly what follows what and when. But it's not as filled with discovery, to me. In fact, when I did try it I found myself forcing A before B when it didn't really feel good. But the outline said it was so.
Regardless, take your journey however you are most comfortable. Just keep an open ear out for hints and tips from your characters. After all, it IS their story.
Speaking of which - today's writing prompt:
I met a woman today in a bar and struck up a conversation. I told her I was a writer and wanted to practice listening to someone's story. Her name was Jillian. She said "My story would take too long and would bore you to death. Let me just tell you how it ends." She rolled up her sleeve and said "I'm..."
I'm starting a new book today with that as the title. "The Strength To Stand Up. Memoirs of an Unemployed Man." People have...
Great time had at the SCBWI conference on Saturday! And a big hello to my friends from that conference who've hopefully joined us here....