Should I use a better map?

One of the things I’ve written about here before regarding my novel is my struggle with outlines.

Photo credit: Rachael Towne

I like rough outlines so that I know which direction to steer my story, kind of like having the stars guide you on your way.  They’re distant points of light that though vague, end up getting you to where you need to be.

Lately, however, especially in the last half of my book where all the ‘big things’ are supposed to start happening (and they are) I’m beginning to wish I had a GPS. Having one sentence descriptions of my last five to eight chapters (yes, I’m that close) doesn’t feel like quite enough. There are things that are popping up that are truly surprising to me. Characters have taken on a life of their own (I think that’s good, right?). But they’re starting to act like real people, and not necessarily in a good way. One character in particular is sort of stumbling along, overcome by the vastness of his life and the circumstances into which he’s been lead.

I don’t know if I should break it down and really do a strong outline for the last chapters so that the finish feels well orchestrated or if I should continue to let the characters act freely. Do I need to micromanage to get the effect I want or should I toss out a motivation to my ‘actors’ and then scream, ‘ACTION’?

When I’m working on my next project, I’d like to attempt to do it using the outline method. It seems like I might have an easier time tackling the nitty gritty.