A couple weeks ago reader Jim Duncan asked the following in comments:
CE, I’m curious if you are a big plotter or if you are more organic, perhaps know where you are going to end up but having no clue how you’re going to get there?
and then discusses his own approach, which is to use a detailed roadmap, because ‘the thought of rewriting a story six times to get it right makes my head hurt. ACK!’
Believe me, Jim, it made my head hurt too. :p
I write from a synopsis, because I sell from a synopsis, and generally the book I eventually turn in ought to have *some* resemblance to the one I pitched. What this usually means is that I create a synopsis with highlights of action and emotional story arc and an ending, and then–because it’s written down–I think I know how to get to the end of the book.
Sadly, this is not necessarily accurate. With HANDS OF FLAME–the book that took six rewrites–when I finally got to the end it actually turned out I *didn’t* know why it ended the way it did. I knew *how* it ended, but I didn’t know what blew things up. I thought I did, but I was wrong. Ultimately I solved this by going to an early reader and saying “What question would this character not want answered?” and my friend, rather flippantly, said, “Where are the bodies buried?” Flippant or not, it was the perfect answer, and happened to combine brilliantly with a conversation that same reader and I had had weeks earlier, so the whole thing came together.
In other words, I don’t plan out every twist and turn, though I have at least one friend (Jim Butcher) who does. For me I suppose the first draft is the planning stage, although since first drafts usually come in at or slightly longer than the final book length (never shorter) it’s a very very *thorough* planning stage.
The funny thing, though, is that I consider myself a plotter. I think all evidence is probably to the contrary, that really I’m an organic writer, a by-the-seat-of-the-pants writer, or pantser, but that loose roadmap I do have, my synopsis, makes me think of myself as someone who plots the story out. (To be fair, the Negotiator Trilogy was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, and really, if you look at the synopses, they’re *shaped* like the books. It’s just that how I got there sort of turned out differently….)
How about you, Faithful Readers? Plotters, pantsers or somewhere in between?