To plot or not to plot

» Posted on Mar 21, 2006 in Blog | Comments Off on To plot or not to plot

I hope Shakespeare will forgive me paraphrasing his, “To be or not to be.” But this is a question writers ask each other all the time. Do you outline your story plot out ahead of time or do you just start writing and see where the story takes you? People starting out struggle with this. What works best?

Well, what works best is what works for you. I think you have to experiment to see what you feel most comfortable with. I personally have a story direction, but I don’t like to outline my plot in detail. It takes the fun out of writing for me. I love the little surprises my characters give me when I tell their story. Now with that said in my romantic suspense stories I do plot more ahead of time than in my contemporary romances.

But I know a lot of writers who are wonderful and must have a detailed outline before they even start chapter one. That is what works for them. Not for me. I like to have a good feel for my main characters–their conflicts, motivations and goals. I know the framework of the story, then I just plunge in and write. I often am writing one chapter and don’t know what the next one will be. But by the end of the chapter I’m writing I usually know where I’m going after that. That’s what I love about writing. The discovery.

In my most recent romantic suspense I’ve writing (Vanished, Love Inspired Suspense, May 2007), it’s the little twists and clues in my story that get a grin out of me. Sometimes I’ll go to bed with a problem and wake up the next morning with an answer. It’s amazing and thrilling when that happens. It’s as if my mind works on a solution while I’m sleeping. Now if only little elves would come in the middle of the night and clean my house, I would be a happy camper.

So my answer to plot or not to plot is that it’s up to each individual writer what works for her. How do you plot?