I’ve found that a combination of the two is most comfortable for me. I make a rough outline of the story’s basic foundations (such as the major plot points), then I free-write the in-between stuff. It’s almost like drawing, I think: drawing freehand can be fun and all, but your proportions sometimes come out a little wonky without any guidelines. If you’re going for a stylized look, that’s perfectly fine. But if you take the time to sketch out the basic shapes before you start drawing the form, it will look a lot smoother when you’re finished.
Sequencing Use to describe the stages of something (the life cycle of a primate); the steps in a linear procedure (how to neutralize an acid); a sequence of events (how feudalism led to the formation of nation states); or the goals, actions, and outcomes of a historical figure or character in a novel (the rise an fall of Napoleon). Key frame questions: What is the object, procedure, or initiating event? What are the stages or steps? How do they lead to one another? What is the final outcome? (NCREL, 1988)
See: Network Tree , Ranking , Fishbone Map , Human Interaction Outline , Continuum Scale , Cycle , Bridging Snapshots , & Problem/Solution Outline Top
On the other hand, moving away from the outline can also mean that you have lost your focus. How can you tell if you need to revise the paper or the outline? One method is to try a retro-outline, which means creating an outline from the paper once it is written (partially or entirely). This method is quite useful before handing in any paper, regardless of whether or not you made an initial outline. If it is difficult to create a retro-outline that makes sense and is clearly organized, then your paper needs revision. Your new outline can help you by showing you where the organization has broken down.