Sunday, April 09, 2006

To Plot or Not To Plot

I get a headache when I hear other authors talk about index cards, spreadsheets, and other forms of putting their plot onto paper. When I finally sold my first book, I could finally sell on proposal, but that includes a synopsis. I forced myself to at least know that much. On one I didn't know the resolution after the black moment, so I put "and they lived happily ever after." Now, I wouldn't suggest that with an editor you haven't worked with.

I admit I'm a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants. Or as someone once said, "I write into the mist." I know my characters and what their goals, motivation, and conflict are, but I don't know how they will get from A to Z. I agree with Gayle Wilson. What's the point of telling a story if you've already told it in all that plotting?

So, what's your method? Do you plot? Do you know every detail before you write your book?


Carla Swafford said...

I never know where it will end up. Only that it will have that happily-ever-after that we all love in romance. In my latest book, I've had to change the synopsis three times. As I write the book, turning points change, characters change, and how we get to the HEA changes. I always feel it makes the story more interesting, possibly more original. Plus more fun to write. I want to know how it ends, too!

Paula said...

I'm writing Intrigues, where the plotting has to be really very intricate. So I definitely plot out the mystery part of my story.

I pants the romance, though. I have a good idea who the characters are, what they want and what stands in their way, and I have a general idea of what the black moment will be. Other than that, though, I usually let the characters weave their way through the mystery plot as they see fit, developing their romantic relationship within that plotting maze.

Anonymous said...

To borrow a phrase from a writer friend -- I'm a plantster. I plot to a point -- have a fairly good idea through character profiles who my hero and heroine are and what's important to them.

And I usually identify at least one conflict for each character -- sometimes not the main one, but it gets me started.

Then, I let it fly. That's my favorite part. When the story comes alive on the page and I find myself so immersed in it, I lose all sense of time and reality. I'm right there with them every step of the way. It's exhilirating.

In the process, my characters change and grow, motivations are revealed and the plot evolves into a story.

I've never written a manuscript when I didn't find myself surprised or downright shocked at a new development or plot twist.

That's why I love writing. It's so satisfying to have a tiny seed of an idea and watch it grow into a full fledged story.

Kathy said...

I'm a plotter. The more I learn about stories, HEA's, hero and heroine perspectives, subplot characters, and staying focused, I've become more relaxed about plotting.

I highly recommend Karen Doctor's online course, The "W" Plot...Or The Other White Meat for Plotters. I recently took it and learned a great deal about myself, most especially the plot of my current WIP.


Victoria Dahl said...

I agree that, for me, I can't see the point of telling a story if I've already written it all out. I've always thought maybe I was a little immature this way. *cough*no comments*cough* I'm easily distracted and I can't READ the same book twice, so I certainly couldn't WRITE it. But I focus on internal conflict as opposed to a complicated plot, so that might be the key.