Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This week's topic: Do you like to make a detailed plan before you start a project? Or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants and make it up as you go along?
The last few Road Trip Wednesdays, I've been posting fairly late in the day--I guess that would be pantsing. But today I made a special effort to get up early and type up my post before class (although I won't be able to tour everyone's posts until later)--plotting.
I don't see the topic until it's posted on YA Highway (didn't they used to post a "next week" headsup in the RTW posts?), however, so I have no idea what topic will be on the table, making it a pantser task. Or a hybrid plotser task. Hmm, that's pretty much how I've written things too, with a little bit of both methods sprinkled in. Not surprising since I'm a Gemini, is it?
In my first novel, I started out with a detailed outline and synopsis. It didn't necessarily include every single event and scene in the story, but there were specific scenes that were already very strong in my mind, down to snippets of dialogue and description.
This worked fairly well for the first 50 pages or so, but then my characters became developed enough to voice ideas of their own about where the story was going. Yes, I know how crazy that sounds, but since mostly other writers read this blog, I know you all get it!
I fought the new plot twists for a while, and then just went with it. I explored tangents, got to know new characters, indulged some research and description. And ended up with a 120,000 word monster of a book. So a lot of those tangents, research, subplots, and characters had to go, which ended up feeling like a lot of wasted effort.
By the time I started my second book, I had a few more conferences under my belt, over a year with a YA crit group, and found some strong betas, all adding to the experience I gained from writing that first book.
From the get-go, I felt like my second book was going to be so much more streamlined. I mulled subplots or scenes before I even sat down to type anything, discarding some and refining others. It was like learning music and improving your ear--I am better at "hearing" what is working.
And then an opportunity to practice my pitch and get a feel for how this story idea would be received came up on Pitch University. It felt like it was much earlier in the stage of the book writing than I would have chosen to pitch it, but I went ahead and wrestled with it and was actually fairly pleased with the results (you can see it up on my novels page above).
It helped me zero in even more on the characters and their relationships, the big conflicts, what the stakes are, etc. Pitch U has an opportunity for romance writers and YA authors to pitch later this month, so I would highly recommend that you take advantage of it!
What about you? Do you plot obsessively (in your book life, not your supervillain life if you have one) or fly by the seat of your pants?