I've been marveling at how my writing process seems to have turned a complete 180. And funny enough my friend - the wonderfully talented Lacey Savage - has been marveling about the same thing. (She has a blog about it here)
Usually I loosely figure out what my characters want and go from there. I HATE plotting. I hate it with a passion. I can never get it to a point where I like it, I paralyze myself with too many "buts" and usually by about 6K in, I decide to change everything anyway. My life as a pantser. (quick 411 -- a plotter is a writer who plots. A pantser is a writer to flies through the story by the seat of their pants)
Something changed recently. I started plotting... And the coolest thing with this new processes of plotting is that I actually ...do not.
Now I've only done 2 stories like that --but so far it seems to fly.
The first thing I do is build the world. Don't matter if its now or aeons from now. I build the rules of my setting.
Next I do a GMC chart. This is the best tool eva -- basically its a chart detailing the main characters' goals, motivations and conflicts. (Check out GMC by Debra Dixon -- its one of those must haves on the writer's shelf IMO) The GMC chart will be in constant flux, but it gives me a good jump start on the next step...
The Snowflake. Basically its a series of steps designed by a software engineer. (Google Snowflake Writing method and hit the first link.) Each step is designed to move you further into the story, and it alternates between "main story" and "characters" story. And as long as you remember that as you move forward you are allowed and encouraged to change you mind, its a wonderful tool to delve from top level of your story into the fine detail.
There's no plotting really -- it just sort of organically grows as you get to know your characters and what major events happen in the story. As you build on that, the story shapes up... So far I haven't actively plotted anything -- at least not for the sake of plotting. Instead, I figured out what happens to my characters and how they overcome their obstacles. Plot? Done.
The best part for me is the second to last step. This is where you take a descriptions of each scene and write "about" it. I can just see the dreaded "show don't tell" rule shuddering.
I "tell" each scene - writing rapid paragraphs about each scene, including anything that comes to mind about it. Bits of dialog, cool setting, a right-on-the-spot word. As I write Dark Lotus, I have the pre-draft ready in 2 nights. And some of it is really solid work.
When I open the predraft to actually write, the words just seem to pour...