Ever wonder where authors get their inspiration? Everywhere! Movies, crazy relatives, intriguing friends, songs, dreams – you name it. The trick is turning that flicker of an idea into 300-400 pages. My first manuscript DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE came from a dream. I woke up and having no knowledge of the writing industry, I sat down at my computer and typed as much as I could about my heroine, my hero, then plot, and whatever else came to mind. It created a snowball effect because the faster my fingers moved across the keyboard, the more ideas that flowed. Pretty soon I had the basis for a novel.
I didn’t know it at the time – because as I’ve said, I failed to do any research about writing, but turns out I was somewhere between a plotter and pantser. I wrote the basic outline, but needed to fly into the midst to find the remaining 150 pages. The half plotter, half pantser method seemed to work for me, and I used it for my second manuscript. HUSTLER’S DREAM required a timeline as the heroine is a professional pool player traveling the competitive circuit. Following a necessary calendar perfectly accommodated my planner side, but I had to stretch the imagination and dig into my left brain to come up with enough material to complete editor criteria.
In the very unscientific pole I’ve taken, most writers are like me – somewhere in the middle. Others are extreme plotters – detailing outlines before they even begin to write. While some, like RWA Hall of Famer and multiple RITA winner Jo Beverly simply flip open their laptops and go to town. The good news is there is no correct method. Find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to try different methods. For example, I tried the all pantser approach for FAST DREAM, the sequel to HUSTLER'S DREAM. It was a disaster and soon gave into the need for an outline because I got to the point where I was sitting down at the computer everyday and staring at a blank page for so long, Facebook pulled me to the dark side.
So, I'll keep my middle ground approach - plotting the main characters and pantser on the secondary ones. Where do you fall? Have you tried both methods and lived to tell the tale or do you always straddle the fence with great success? Or maybe not, but we’ll keep writing for the love of it!