I plot. I plod. I plea.
I plot a lot more than I used to. When I first started writing lengthily- books instead of short stories- I would just go with the flow. Sit there and let it all spill from my head. And an almighty mess it was too and I realized that exhilarating as this was (and there is definitely a place for spewing) it was too hopelessly free- form and I had to spend a lot of time in the revision process moving scenes around and restructuring so that the story moved well. The better the writing the more effortlessly it seems to flow. No easy task that.
So I started to plot. Sometimes just a few chapters ahead to give me a destination point to work towards (because god knows its hard to reach the middling place where the story takes over and things forge ahead), sometimes the whole thing, sometimes a clear sort of beginning, a hazy center, and an end point.
It changes with the tale, the mood. I try to be structured and loose at the same time.
And I try to surprise myself. If I am caught up in the story, dedicated to following the twists and turns then the reader will be too, but to avoid being too formulaic (because you know that there will be somewhat of a happy ending eventually) I toss some surprises in there. Expect the course of love to run smooth? Think the hero saves the girl? Think the dragon is evil incarnate? Umm, maybe not. Who knows?
And sometimes these little deviations come as a shock to me as well. Sometimes I really dont know where they come from and that is GREAT.
But also, as I become more used to this whole writing thing, this write- every- day -or-die mindset that I have been sucked into in the last ten years or so when it has become a daily activity akin to breathing or hiking, I try to trick myself.
Pull a notion that comes from so deep within I dont recognize it and throw that into the mix. What will it hurt? And maybe it will open up something new.
Hey if it surprises me then it will surprise you, right? Can it be totally left field and still work? I dont know. Im still beginning on the journey. Ive only just touched my toes to the path, but part of the thrill of writing is the discovery so Im definitely excited to find out.