For some novels like my Syn series I have done and am currently doing a tremendous amount of research. I have a running list of notes I have taken for the series and there are certain elements that could be seen as an outline. I do take notes on each of the main characters, what drives them or hurts them. I keep watch for who or what might cause them pain and frustration but honestly when I am writing the majority of what I do is simply listen to them as they tell me their stories.
I have been out of school for many years so I have no need for the process of writing a term paper or citing my sources yet so many writers still follow that same pattern for their novels. They create character bios, something I have experimented with myself. They will come up with a layout or storyboard for their chapters or sections and then add in details as they research or the characters reveal them.
I have been trying to incorporate different aspects of the outline process to find a blend that works for me but so far I just do better when I am winging it. For this style of writing I am overall what is known as a pantser while those that plan everything out are called plotters. The outlines are definitely more of a plotter element though I have a great friend and fellow writer that has called herself and at times me as well plantsers. We have an initial idea of what we are working to achieve but ultimately just go with the flow as we create. I will be writing more about Plotters and Pantsers in my next post.