I have one more chapter to write in my WIP – maybe two – before I run out of planned material and take a leap into the unknown.

Okay, maybe it’s not as dire a decision as the one indicated on this sign (which my husband photographed on a recent business trip to Aspen.) I mean, I don’t think death can result from writing a novel without an outline … but I’m not really sure.

I have all the elements. I have a story idea – a mystery, a romance, and a little history. I think I know how it will end. I have the various nuts and bolts: two caged graves, an Indian massacre, clues in a diary, lost treasure, a love triangle, a swamp, legends of the undead, poison, and war. I probably have more than I need, and when I’m done, I fully expect to find some unused parts laying around.

Because I don’t really have the plot hammered out yet. And I’m not sure I can plan it out too far in advance, because my characters have their own ideas. I have found that if I give them the space and time to develop, my characters may lead me down unexpected paths. (Hopefully not that path marked with the skull and crossbones, though.)

That’s why instead of an outline, I just have a list titled: Events That Will Probably Happen Soon.

Writing a new story is an adventure, a leap into the unknown. And as a writer, I should be prepared to take some false paths and maybe even discover that the story I planned is not the story I’m going to write. I need to let the characters play and grow and frolic through whole scenes and dialogues that I’ll cut later. The order of events may change; some scenes will be cut and others added. I may even need to throw out the beginning and start from a different place.

All this is good, because creation = chaos.

Do you know where YOUR WIP is going?