Plot, seat of pants or combination?Read the complete Q & A.
If you are asking if I outline, the answer is not really, certainly not a traditional outline. I make notes to myself that spur direction, but mostly I just start writing with a general idea of where I’m going and surprise myself when I find out I didn’t really know where I was going. Mostly, I have the story sort of figured out and then I visualize scenes and consider weather, sounds, time of day, time of year, and scents in the air – all the elements surrounding the characters and the setting. Weird, I know, but that’s what happens. It’s like building a picture, this happens, that happens, but where and what did it sound like? What did it smell like? Here is an example – in Jugglers at the Border, a few minutes after Kristin has shot and killed a man who came way too close to killing her, she leaves the farmhouse where it happened to walk down a dark country road and retrieve her car. The last thing she wants to do is mull over the violence she has just experienced. She looks around as she walks, considers where she is, and thinks about more congenial things.
The walk down the dirt road was cool and pleasant. I thought of my grandma’s farm and tranquil summer evenings and wished I were barefoot. It was overcast, but the moon must’ve been full beyond the haze to cause the sky’s dull glow. The mild breeze smelled of rain. No bugs or animals; they’d long ago hunkered down. Here and there across the silent farmland, single points of light pierced the darkness. Many miles away, along the thin southwestern horizon, lightning danced.
I want the reader to experience what Kristin is seeing and feeling and smelling and hearing and understand her need for gentle memories. That’s what I mean by visualizing a scene. Put a few of those together and the next thing you know, you have a book.
The Page 69 Test: Baby Shark.