I've done lots of freelance work for Paizo, and in virtually every case I'm given a comprehensive outline of the entire project (even if I'm only writing a part of it). I appreciated, but didn't fully understand, how much thought and effort went into these outlines, and how much they set the tone and guidance for the whole project. The outlines are as much "don't do this kind of thing or go this sort of direction" as they are "here, do this kind of thing" (in one project about human races, I remember a line in the outline like "if you succeed at only one Cultural Sensitivity check this month, make it when you're writing this section.").

Paizo extended me a very interesting offer a couple of weeks ago; rather than give me an outline for an upcoming project, they asked me to write the outline for an upcoming project. I had only some sample outlines from recent similar products and a photograph of their ideas whiteboard to go on. It was terrifying, but also exciting--I was shaping the project from the ground up, based on little more than a marketing blurb and some loose ideas. This turned out to be a substantially more in-depth project than I suspected, because there's a lot that goes into the research of an outline--what's come before that doesn't need to be rehashed, where design space is open to bring in more stuff, and how to provide "what not to do" guidance alongside the "what to do" guidance.

I turned the outline in on Monday after working on it all through the 4th of July weekend. I'm supposed to get comments on it back today, and I'm both excited and nervous to see how my first outline was received. 

Since I also "pre-selected" about half the book to write myself, I'll have to turn right to the writing once I see how it's been changed, which will be back into the usual groove of things.