One thing I've learned is that when outlining feels mechanical, I'm not going deep enough. I'm not taking it far enough. This form of outline -- more or less what Rachel Aaron described, only taken to my own level -- is kind of a very very sketchy rough draft. And that's working for me for all the reasons she said.
But the other day I felt like taking a step away from the current story and I wrote out some snippets of scenes from my next project, The Man Who Stepped Up. (Which is a sequel to The Man Who Did Too Much.)
The following is just dialog, and something of a set piece: it could go anywhere. It's just a bit of background on George, the compulsive action hero who has a few issues with boundaries. Karla, his best friend and Happiness Coach has caught a glimpse of a long wicked scar he has down his side.
"So where did you get that scar?" asked Karla.
"Which one?" said George, his eyebrows coming together.
"The big one down your side."
"Oh, I was riding my bike along the top of a wall. I didn't notice that the bricks at the end had a pitch to them."
"So it wasn't fighting drug lords or terrorists or anything?"
"Well, my parents were certainly terrorized. As was the nanny and the gardener."
"How old were you?"
"I don't recall. Seven, I think."
"Were you trying to rescue someone?"
"No, that was pre-rescue-mania. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Turned out I could. Mostly."
"Did you try it again?"
"I would have, but my father took away the bicycle, and had the wall re-topped with a less bike-friendly surface. And then we had several long discussions about looking before you leap. Which I assured him I had learned, and promised absolutely that I would look next time... Which, now that I think about it, is when he had the wall redone."
It will undoubtedly change shape before I use it (and be plumped up with interior voice and resonance with what's going on around it), but that was my fun for the day.
See you in the funny papers.