A few days ago I was reading a post on the blog of kt Literary. The posed was about how people plot out their novels. Outline or fly the seat or your pants? As much as I’ve tried to outline, it’s never stuck. I am and, suspect I always will be, a fly by the seat of my pants type of writer. Perhaps if I ever write something like The Da Vinci Code, or my most recent reads: Caught by Harlan Coben or The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, then perhaps I’ll need to outline, post up cards and have detailed pedigrees. Those stories have a tone of characters, plots within plots and enough twists and turns to snap a neck. So, yeah, I’d probably need to outline.
I’m a character driven writer. I like to read books, watch movies and tv shows which are character driven (one of the reasons I never really got into Law and Order). I care less about the crime and more about the toll it takes on the character.
So for me, I’ve never really had to plot out a character driven novel. Sometimes I have to take note of certain things, for instance:
In my latest novel, the first chapter starts with the main character angry that her on-campus parking spot has been revoked and given to the new guy, even though she stood in line last term to get it, and followed all the rules. It’s a small thing, but I wanted it to come back into play near the end of the book, so hopefully my readers will say, “Oh, now I see why her spot was taken.” The funny thing is, I’d written it down as a reminder to circle back around to it at the end. And then I promptly forgot about it, yet somehow managed to still bring it full circle. So I guess, until my memory stops working for me, I’ll keep flying by the seat of my pants as I write.
Tell me, do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?