Some authors outline everything, some don’t. I’m an author who doesn’t outline a story; it would ruin the writing process for me if I did. However I have seen authors who swear by it being the only way they can write. It really just comes down to what works for the writer as there isn’t a right or wrong way to build and explore a story.
For me, I really see the story in my head—not the entire story, but there is something that I see when I start thinking of the story. I call these movies in my head because they play like movies in my head while I’m thinking about them.
Some stories I don’t write, some I do write, and then there are those that I think I’m not going to drop what I’m working on and write it, but the story just keeps coming to me. That movie keeps playing in my head and I have to write it.
I don’t know the ending when I start. Sometimes I haven’t seen very far into it, but the story is so vibrant in my mind that I just have to write it.
Other stories just come to me. Like with On Thin Ice, I knew Jet was going to have a story, but I didn’t know the exact details of that story. I knew he was part of the Search and Rescue team. I knew he had been in the Air Force and stayed in until full retirement. I didn’t know a lot about him as a person (character personality that is) but I knew a little because he had been in the first two books already.
As I wrote his story I found out how he got his name—Jet Jackson. His name is actually Jethro and it wasn’t shortened just for the fun of it. Let’s just say he got into some trouble as a kid (nothing major like gangs, but trouble that could have, if left unchecked, landed him in bigger trouble eventually) and he got his nickname from there.
I knew he was a solid good guy and the best for going in unnoticed and rescuing the hostage. That’s about all I knew when I put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard.
Akira Bowman got built along the way. My leading lady was biracial Japanese. That became important for me. I knew early on that she would be a figure skater and I thought of maybe changing her ethnicity so it didn’t seem stereotypical, but I really liked her as she was and it was a fixed point for career so I left her as is and moved forward.
As I wrote the movie played and I wrote what I saw. This story, while I can’t play the ultimate favorite in books, became my favorite in the entire segment. I liked the first book a lot, Heart of Danger, but something about Jet and Akira just captivated me—their love, her patience, and his determination to bring her home alive no matter the cost, was something I loved about these two.
So whether you outline or not, if there is a story within you just sit down and start bringing your fictional world to life. Starting is the first step to what could be an amazing world building adventure.