One of the toughest parts of writing a good, solid novel is plotting. And it's something I struggle with on every single book.
I've tried a couple of different methods to find out which one "works" for me. Here's what I've discovered.
No outline. When I decided to write without knowing a single thing about my characters or about the plot, I had a great time - for awhile. But then it all came to a crashing halt when I didn't have solid goals or motivations for my characters, and I discovered what was supposed to be a "historical" setting was more or less window dressing.
Result? I wasted months revising it all.
Detailed outline. A few years ago, I had an idea for a modern-day novel (new for me since I write historical) that was set in my great-grandparents' hometown of Volpiano, Italy. I made lots and lots of notes. I plotted the entire thing out.
Result? I had pre-planned so much of the novel that I sucked the magic out of it all. I didn't even want to write it anymore, and I haven't looked at it in years. I hope to return to it someday.
So what's the solution? Middle ground, obviously. I usually like to know the basics about my character, but making an extensive list of their likes and dislikes is out for me. I discover those things through the story itself. But I need to have the bare bones of the plot, a sort of roadmap to where I'm going. But here's the thing - my course can change at any time. Detours are a part of it all. As long as I get from point A to point B, it doesn't matter how I get there.
However, I sometimes feel like I need a better process.
This is where you, my lovely followers and readers and lurkers, come in. What is your process for plotting? What books would you recommend?
Spill in the comments!