I had my montly writer's meeting yesterday - a great group of people and I always come away with renewed enthusiasm for this business I'm in - which is important. This business is a solitary one and we writers often become so isolated that we forget there is a real world outside our imaginary ones.
But as I said, I came home with a renewed sense of purpose. So I worked all evening on a new WIP (work in progress). I did character sketches, worked on settings, sketched out a basic plot and took notes on research I'd have to do. This book is going to be a completely different type for me. Oh, it will still be a paranormal story - I don't think I could do one without some sort of fantasy/science fiction/paranormal plot line. But it will be set in today's world - a contemporary. Up until now, all my stories have either been medieval or futuristic. But this one is saying it needs a current setting, so I'll see what happens.
There's always a lot of discussion on my writer's lists about the differences between being a plotter (someone who plots the entire story out to the last detail before starting to write) and a pantster (someone who just sits down and writes with no clue where the story is going). I fall somewhere in between. I often write a couple of pages of prose when the idea first comes to me, basically so I can just get it down before I forget it. Then, when I have time, I work out who my main characters are, where and when the book will take place, and a brief outline of what will happen and how it will all end up. Note that I said "brief" outline. It's rarely more than a page. Sometimes, I write a diary from the point of view of the main character - so she can tell me what happened to her. Once I have an idea of where I'm going, then I start to write. For me, the outline is very flexible - I can stick to it or not. About the only time I refer to it is in the middle when I'm stuck. Then I can look at it and say "Oh, yeah, that's what happens here!" and I go on. One thing it does do is help in reducing all those moments when you're writing and something happens - but in order for this something to happen, you have to go back three chapters and make something else happen and go back from there to set it up...
So this month I'm on the job of writing a new story. We'll see where it takes me.
Today's question: Are you a plotter or a pantster? Why?