I was put on the defensive last night by another writer after mentioning that I outline my stories before writing.
"How can they breathe if you restrict them with your predetermined story?", she asked. "Why can’t you let your characters live free to discover their own destinies?"
Because I don’t want to. Fuck ’em. They’re my characters, I made them and they live or die at my whim. That’s what they get for being fictional.
Just because we (usually) read a story from the beginning straight through to the end doesn’t mean I have to write them that way.
Time isn’t necessarily linear. We perceive time as linear, but it’s possible that a being from a higher dimension (for simplicities sake let’s call him/her/it "God") can rotate, manipulate and observe the forth dimension (let’s call the forth dimension "time") as easily as we can effect second and third dimensional objects.
As the writer I am God of my story/world, so why should I limit myself to linear time?
I start by writing down scenes, actions, plot-points, bits of dialogs and other elements that I might want in the story. When I have enough material I sort this list into a rough continuity. This list isn’t set in stone, but it gives me some direction, it lets me know where to take the story.
I feel that this method helps prevent writer’s block. If I get stuck on the third scene I can leave it and work on a different scene, and I can come back to the problem scene when I feel inspired.
We eventually agreed that both methods are valid.
Whatever works, for you is the superior method because no one will really care how a story was written, they’ll only care if it’s good or not.