I hate to outline because -- I can't believe I'm saying this -- I hate to push or force the Muse. Hehe. I have a rough idea in my head. The story already has a certain shape, texture, color, mood. It's almost all there; I just can't see it. I need to dig it up. But for some reason with my last book (Before I Wake) I decided I would try something different. The three or four act construction. (I think I chose four.) According to the rules of structure, somewhere around page 100 the protagonist is supposed to come to a BIG decision. (This already feels much too late to me.)
Yes, damn it. I will sacrifice everything to restore order to the planet! I will give a kidney to the asshole who broke my heart! I will accept the biggest challenge of my life!
The second and third act will contain some small climaxes and story arcs, and you should hit the beginning of the biggest climax around page 300. (I tried to find the book with all these rules, but maybe I burned it.) 300 seems too soon, but anyway I think it was 300 if your ms is around 400 pages. Anyway, 300 is when all shit breaks loose and people are running around, getting killed, hiding, getting killed some more. Guns. Knives. Crazy stuff. Put it here.
I don't think the process worked very well for me. The book felt forced, and the shifts between acts were too pronounced. Actually, I think I tend to subconsciously use a rough version of the three or four act structure anyway, but with smoother transitions.
Anyway, tried it. Can't say you don't like brussel sprouts if you haven't tried them. But I'm back to Zenning my way through a story. Thing is, I want the journey to surprise me. If that isn't happening, I get bored. I don't want to always be driving. I want to enjoy the ride.