I do a simple outline; just numbered scenes. The first novel I really outlined like that was a novel that I envisioned when I was in Brazil. I was staying at the Copacabana Hotel there, and I didn’t have a computer with me, and I wrote down 25 scenes for this novel. It was a great revelation to me that I could do this. That I could take that outline home and execute that novel pretty much based on those 25 scenes that I had sketched out. That did work very well for me.
After that I did outline in that informal form. But once I start writing I have to be willing to change that outline. I have to be willing to scrap it totally, and go with the surprises that come up. I’m a very intuitive writer, as well as a spontaneous writer. The story really does come alive for me. The characters too. When the surprises occur I have to throw out all preconceived notions about what was going to happen, and what should happen.
Outlining is helpful to put your thoughts in order, even if you never look at the outline when you’re writing