There have been many articles written about plotting (planning) vs pantsing (seat of the pants). Typically, I’m a planner. I have oodles of charts and graphs and questionnaires that I work on before starting a new story. I find pictures that capture what I think my characters look like. I know what my characters did when they were five, how they felt about their parents, whether their first crush returned the feelings or broke their little hearts. Supposedly this helps you know how your characters will react in a situation – it establishes their motivation and conflict as they reach for the goal.
My newest book, however, is being written by the seat of the pants and it is driving me a little crazy. Most recently the bullet train to crazy town is being powered by the fact I have to go and delete a thousand words because the story has gone down a track I don’t want it to travel. It’s a mainstream romance and my characters have decided it’s more of a suspense. Normally I wouldn’t mind. This time, however, I have to pull them back to the station.
When I started this book I knew the characters’ names and the town they lived in. I only knew this because it’s book two in my series, Lovers of Belle Terre, and both characters were in book one. Starting from so much nothing really terrified me as a writer. I struggle to write when I know the plot and how I want the story to get to the end. I didn’t even have an opening line. I still don’t have a title.
So what do you do? Right now, I’m writing. Anything. Any words that come to me. Staring at the blank page, I’m looking to my characters for inspiration. Tell me what you want to do! Tell me how you feel about that! Mostly, they are responding which is exhilarating, except when they lie to me or lead me astray. Like now.
Have you gone against your normal style of writing before? Was it successful? Would you do it again?