Usually, when I sit down to write a story, I have already meticulously worked out who my characters are, what their internal and external GMCs are, and how they grow. I use all that information to determine what needs to happen in my story. I carefully plot out scenes that will solve the story question, give my characters opportunities to grow by providing conflict and complications that force them to make decisions in the right direction. I move them from plot point to plot point until I determine the end of the story. Once that’s all done, do I sit down and actually write the book.

I consider my detailed plotting the first draft of my book.

The catch with this method is that once my characters actually begin to act and speak for themselves, they frequently do something I hadn’t anticipated at all leaving me to figure out the whole story all over again based on what they said or did. It’s frustrating sometimes, but it always leads to a more interesting, or at least a different book. And I always feel that it’s important to allow for these changes, as well, because not to do so would be to force my characters to behave in a way that is not in character. So I go with the flow. It’s better that I change the story rather than the characters.

But this is me. This is the way my process works. It’s taken me over 25 books to perfect this process, and even then I’m always changing it up somewhat – fooling with the way I plot, adapting my worksheets, doing things either on paper or digitally. Doing something a little differently.

Every writer, however, has their own process. Every author has their own way of working and are constantly figuring out the best way for them to get that story developed and on the page.

Some writers are like me and like to plot. The other extreme are the pantsers who start with a rough idea, a concept, or a character and just plunge right in. They will write the story until it comes to its natural conclusion and then craft what they’ve written into a coherent story with characters who have goals and grow by the end. Basically, they do something similar to me only they do all the planning and figuring out of their characters and plot after the book is written, frequently re-writing a great deal of it by the time they’re through.

And then there are people who do some variant along the line that has extreme plotter at one end and extreme pantser at the other. They’ll work out characters, but not the plot, or vice versa knowing just how the story should progress but not knowing the characters at all. There are endless variations as you can imagine.

So how do you know what process is right for you? Trial and error, my friends. Try one method and if it doesn’t work, try another. Know that just because you write one book one way doesn’t mean that you have to write the next book the same way. Every book is different, and you are growing and learning with each story you write.

So now I am off to try a new method of plotting just because it’s new to me and different from anything I’ve ever tried before. Next week I’ll tell you all about my mind map!