Over the holidays, my husband and I made an impromptu trip to visit my parents. It's a long drive, usually between 9 to 10 hours, and most of the way, the view is just desert. As a child, we took the trip at least once a year to see my grandparents. And of course, 9 hours stuck in a car seemed like an eternity.
As we were driving, I was amazed by how much faster and seemingly familiar the trip was. Maybe because I'm now familiar with road signs and I'm able to determine for myself if we're "there yet." It’s much easier to endure the journey when I know what to expect and when I can gauge where I am on the road.
Writing is similar, at least for me.
I need to know where I'm going so that I don't lose energy and determination to get there. I need a road map, a guide. And that's exactly what my outline is for me. But what's amazing is that now, after writing so many stories, I have a better idea of the journey. I know how to get there, even if the roads aren't always the same.
In my planning, I know what I need and what doesn't always add to the story. Instead of needing weeks to months to create characters with intricate back stories and settings, I know how much I need to start. Why take a journey if there isn't a little bit of adventure? As long as I know where I'm going and how to get there, I'll be fine.
How about the rest of you? What kind of road maps do you use when writing?