I’ve been reading a lot of posts about creativity lately. A few of them claim that if a writer plots ahead and doesn’t follow his/her muse, he stifles his creative juices and forces them to go somewhere they might otherwise avoid. I usually stay out of the pantsers/plotters debate. I think every writer has to find what works for him. We all tap into our creative juices and sweat-and-blood, putting-words-on paper in our own ways. But a couple of comments here and there have made me feel the need to defend my need for plotting.
For me, plotting is NOT plodding. That term applies to the late middle of any novel I’ve ever written–it feels like it will never end. And plotting doesn’t ruin my creativity when I’m not constantly surprised by what my characters might come up. I don’t make elaborate, detailed plots anymore–even though I did when I wrote mysteries–but the plot points were always just dots on a map. I start at point A, travel to point B, take a left at C, follow a winding road to D, and finally end up at point E..or F…or wherever the end of the book lands. Plots are destination points, and my characters almost always suprise me on how they decide to get to each of them. The points make sure I don’t take any detours that lead nowhere, but the actual journey is still an adventure.
Plot points actually FREE UP my creativity. I’m not sitting, looking at a blank page each time I finish a scene, wondering what I should write next, because I have a next bus stop in mind. All I have to ask myself is how am going to get from here to there? And what kinds of flat tires, accidents, and bumps in the road can happen along the way?
That said, when I find a blogger who explains writing better than I do, I like to share their post with you. It’s no secret that I love Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. A fan asked her how she wrote her query for the first Kate Daniels book, Magic Bites, and she generously took the time to give a brilliant answer and then a second blog describing what’s crucial to make a good book. Both would make good, pre-writing scribbles for what to decide on BEFORE you start a book. You don’t have to agree. But plot points work for me.