do you make an outline when you write a novel?

It’s Thursday morning!  So that must mean it’s time for Writing Wednesday!

This question is from Jaime, who wants to know if I make an outline when I write a novel.

And the answer is yes. And no. And sort of.


Usually, my outlines are just numbered lists.  Very broad.  The number stands for the chapter, and then I follow it with whatever the main event of that chapter will be.  Ideally–though this doesn’t always happen–I like chapters to build to something.  Just as the book itself is building up to its ending, a chapter can follow that same format.  That sense of things building is always good for the story’s momentum.  Though I certainly have plenty of chapters that just make a bridge between other chapters and events.

Have you tried making outlines?  Do they help or hinder?  Other questions about structure? Or momentum?