I had a story in my head, and was obsessed by it, but was scared to commit myself to being a ‘writer‘. I’d jumped in before; put one of my daydreams on paper, and had been horrified by my own writing. I didn’t know then it was okay to write badly because there was something called editing. So I put the story points in a spreadsheet to get the details out of my head.
That was too slow. I dumped the spreadsheet and the paragraphs started flowing. Short on time, I chose prose over plotting, letting the story tell itself while I committed it to the page. That was my first novel, finished in 8 months and as of now, it’s buried somewhere.
I was then convinced I didn’t need plotting. Which is probably why my next two novels took so long, and were rewritten so many times.
With my current work in progress, I got half-way through and because I’d taken a year off work, felt I had the luxury, to try things I’d always skimmed over: namely plotting, and research. While ultimately the writing is better, it’s also been infinitely easier.
I’ll never again try to write a novel or any long work without thinking through what I’m trying to accomplish in each scene, chapter, even paragraph.
I plot loosely, and always deviate from it, but the investment in that step is invaluable. Writing fiction without a plot for me is having to create a world out of thin air while trying to write about it. Plotting breaks up the process. I create the framework and roadmap through plotting, then fill in the blanks, let story live and steer itself when I write.
What works best for you and why?