I see a lot of discussion on whether or not writers are "plotters" or "pantsers", whether they write with full outlines and note cards and know each character by heart before they've written a word, or whether they just sit down and go with the flow. Me? I'm somewhere in between, in "planster" land.
I don't do note cards. I never have an outline written down. It just seems like a whole lot of work. But I do know a lot about my characters before I start writing. I get the initial story idea in my head and then I keep thinking about the character. How are they going to react? Why are they going to react this way? I work on that in my head, though. I don't write it down. Then I start writing.
And this may be where I differ from others. I don't sit down and write as much as I can at one time. I write one scene at a time.Why? Two reasons. The first is because the story plays out in my head as a movie. I see my characters, I see the scene. Then I write it down as best I can to help you, the reader, see it too. And I like to give myself time to see the next scene. And second, I've also found that the story changes somewhat if I give my brain extra time to process it. So basically, I'm a slow worker. But for longer stories, its what works best for me. And it's not that I never write two scenes in a day, sometimes I come back and do another scene in the afternoon. And maybe even one more before bed. I just don't do them all at once.
I'm also thinking about the story and the characters all the time in the back of my mind. My best ideas or plot points or even endings come to me in the shower. Weird, huh? I think it's one of the few places where I'm just relaxing and my mind is sort of blank. Then I get all excited and start plotting. (Note to self: no matter how excited you get, do not jump up and down in the shower. The resulting fall is painful.) So in that way, I do plot out a rough, unwritten outline. And it helps me to have a direction to go in with the next scene.
But I don't always know my characters as well as I think I do. Sometimes they surprise me. I was working on a (soon to be published) story and one of the characters revealed that she was a homosexual. I was a little shocked at first, because I didn't see it coming, but then I shrugged and went with it. Good for her, I thought. To sum it up, here's a conversation I had with my son~
Me: I hate that people don't do what I want. That's why I write.
Sean: So you can make your characters do what you want?
Sean: How's that working out for you?
Me: It's not. They don't listen to me either.
Sean: So, the made-up people in your head don't listen to you either?
Me: No one listens to me, Sean. No one.
And the one I had with my daughter~
Me: OMG! Guess what I just found out? Susie is gay!
Me: I know right?! I can't believe I didn't know...
And yes, that was a conversation about a made up person. Thank goodness my children indulge, no, embrace my craziness.
So there you have it. I'm a plantster. What are you?