I’ve been working a great deal on plot for Without A Past this week. After a lengthy brainstorming session with Pot last night, I think I’ve got the first third of the story plotted out. Historically, that would have been plenty for me to be off and running–because for me, the first third of any book is usually the easiest to write. Then I get to the dreaded Middle. The Middle is redolent of the Bermuda Triangle–inspiration seems to disappear here without a trace, leaving me floundering and searching for the threads of my plot to somehow connect to the end–if I actually know the end.
This is the reason I have thirty odd WIPs in various stages of beginning with very few completions. It’s one of those things I was trying to address when I decided last year to apply my behavioral modification techniques to my writing. So I’ve done a lot of talking on this blog about my efforts to become a plotter rather than a pantser. I was telling another friend this morning that quitting pantsing is as hard as I imagine quitting smoking to be (having never smoked, I don’t actually know, but it seems to be very hard for people to quit). I seem to be facing a lot of the same patterns–I’ll make a certain amount of progress and then I’ll fall off the wagon again and neglect to figure out where my plot is going and end up cutting 10-20k or coming to a complete standstill because I don’t know what happens next.
I’m endeavoring to avoid that fate with WOaP, so I’m still letting the plot marinate and taking notes and loosely outlining as I go. Not the minutia of every scene, but a general order of events and the sorts of scenes that I need to carry the story to the end. I think part of my problem with this is that the first third of the book tends to sort of bring the hero and heroine together for the first time–and being a sap, I love that, and I’m resistant to tearing them apart again, even though that is, of course, the bread and butter of romance and suspense–otherwise why are people still reading your story? You have to introduce conflict on a smaller scale to keep things moving. So that’s what I have to figure out at this point. I know the initial issues Rowan has to overcome to get into both her new life and a relationship with Mitch, and I know what the massive conflict at the end is and how it comes about (as of course the bad guys that the WITSEC folks are hiding her from find her), but I have to figure out the smaller conflicts in the middle. There will be a lot of stuff relating to the fact that she’s (necessarily) lying to him, but there have to be other issues as well and I’m still working on those. It is a struggle to make myself do that rather than going haring off.
What about you other writers out there–pantsers or plotters–can one set turn to the other or is pantsing or plotting as inherent as–say–handedness? Can be changed with lots of work but one definitely has a strong preference for one or the other?