I'm nearing the end of The Great Air Pirates YA Revision of 2010, and I discovered something. For years now, I thought I outlined because I'm an obsessive compulsive planner. And I am. But the real reason I outline, as it turns, is because when I draft I'm a wimp.
See, in Air Pirates there's this character that dies. I mean, a lot of characters die, but there's this one in particular. I really liked this character, but as long as they live, the protagonist has no motivation for change. Not a very interesting story.
So I killed the character in the outline. It was easy. Just a quick sentence: "So-and-so dies. Protagonist goes nuts." No problem.
But when I got to that spot in the draft, I froze. Did they really HAVE to die? Did I have to write the words that killed them? I didn't want to do it, and I was sad when it was done. But I did it because I outlined it that way, and I couldn't think of a better solution (also I didn't want to re-outline half the book just to accommodate the suddenly-living character).
That was in the first draft. Then the means of this character's death had to change for the YA version, and I had to kill them AGAIN. It took me like an hour just to type the words that made it real, and if I hadn't planned it, I wouldn't have done it.
So there you go. I don't outline because I'm afraid to wing it. I outline because, if I didn't, my characters would just win all the time. While that's lots of fun for me (I do like my characters), anyone I swindled into reading it would get bored fast. And since my characters can't pay me, I guess that makes my choice easy.