Outlining Update

I promised to update my adventures in outlining in my last post, so here you go:

Wow, this outlining thing is difficult!

I’ve spent a lot of time with a notepad and a pencil jotting down ideas and the questions those ideas bring to mind.  Instead of starting into the story, I’m making myself contemplate different directions the story can take and evaluating them to see which would be best.  As of now, I do not have an outline, but I do have a much more developed idea than the seed that I began with.  A sprout, I guess you could call it.

I’ve been playing “What If?” in a much more formalized way than I’ve done it before.  One of my first writer friends, Suzie Quint, was the person who introduced me to “What If?”  Basically, it involves asking that question over and over.  It helps jog your brain to come up with answers that are in there, but don’t want to leap forth of their own accord.  You have to ask the question to get the answer.

So I now have a partially developed plot, which started its seed life as a short story idea and now has grown towards novel-length.  I have characters and a setting that didn’t exist in the beginning.  I have an idea of where I want the story to end.  It’s not where I’d hoped to be by now–I’d hoped to already have a fully realized outline and be ready to start writing–but it’s something, and it hasn’t hit a dead end yet.

How do you feel about outlining?  Is it a way of life for you, or is it more like pulling teeth?