Cycle of Creative Progress
Many people see the cycle of creating as just writing-reviewing-rewriting, and miss out on an important step: re-evaluating the outline. I see the cycle like this:
Starting the Cycle
You can start at any point in the cycle.
Write: starting here is usually less than a first draft, and more a collection of notes or a rough proof-of-concept piece. Hell, many of my blog posts serve this purpose. And further times with this could be small revisions or complete rewrites, and with additions or major cuts. The hard work of iteration lives here.
Review: this is a weird starting place, but it comes about from reviewing a book or experience and thinking about what doesn’t and does sit right with you that sparks you to make something new. That experience could be something from a past project or yours or something that someone else made.
Outline: starting here is about structuring thoughts in order to figure out what you’re actually trying to create; an imperfect analogy would be to sort your LEGO pieces before building something and pulling those out that you figure you want to use.
Progressing the Cycle
Write: No matter where you start, you’ll get to the point of writing the first iteration. It might be what you imagine is complete, or just a piece of something you figure will be bigger.
Review: Then you’ll get to reviewing what you’ve written. That could be self-reflecting, playtesting, alpha readers commenting, etc.
Outline: Then you either go back and look at your original outline to see if it needs tweaking, remaking from scratch, or sets as-is. You can often skip this step, especially in small iterations and very later iterations, but that should be a conscious choice rather than just not thinking about it.
As a development editor, I eyeball the outline with prejudice in the first round of editing. I often see writers not re-evaluating their outlines. I urge you all to do so; that will make your books easier to understand and process. And when a game book can be absorbed by those who wish to play it, those games will be more successful at the table.