Yesterday I posted a link to an interview with one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. In preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo (which begins tomorrow), I've been thinking a lot about how a novel evolves lately. The first three novels I ever wrote, I did so without any sort of formal plotting or outlining. I wrote in chunks, scenes and chapters as they came to me, then went back and wove it all together as the theme emerged.
Then I learned about plotting and outlining and scene sketches, etc. My next three books were outlined before I let myself start writing. I did character descriptions, scene sketches, and writing exercises to prepare, then I wrote.
I will admit that I found the plotting method to be faster and more directed. However I am realizing that this kind of approach has caused a new dilemma for me. I tend to get out the main points in a concise manner and then fall short on word count- the content is there, but it isn't as vivid and bright as I had imagined it. In effect, the focus on plotting and planning has dried up my writing.
I feel like the majority of advice out there recommends plotting, etc. for new writers. Ms. Gabaldon's words, and her description of her writing process, reminded me that it's OKAY to not have everything all planned out. In fact, her description of her process and how she builds scenes from grains of inspiration- objects, emotions, a bit of dialogue- then weaves them all together later on sounds exactly like what I did with my first few books. (Granted, I acknowledge that she is FAR more talented- I am in no way comparing my skill level with hers.)
I think that the focus on plotting has helped me to be more aware of elements that help with structure, however, I have decided that for the next novel I'm going to do things in a way that feels natural to me, rather than the way that I think I should do them.
My current WIP, which I will be finishing during Camp NaNoWriMo, is suffering from the desert effect I described above. So, I am going to give myself permission to throw the plot outline out the window and write whatever comes to me during the month of June. When it's all over, I'll go back and see how the two compare. Maybe with more freedom, I'll surprise myself with my creativity!
How do you write? Are you a plotter or a panster? What benefits do you see in each method?