If you are ever around fiction writers long enough, they will eventually say something totally bizarre. They will tell you how their characters took over their story, and they lost control. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It happens to me every time I write. There are two kinds of writers: Plotters and Pantsers. I fall into the latter category. A plotter constructs an outline of the entire plot. A pantser lets things flow naturally, or as the title implies, they fly by the seat of their pants. At the start of a new story, I make a feeble attempt at an outline by listing every scene I plan to write; however, I seldom refer to it as a guide. Once I complete the story, I pull out the so-called outline, and I am amazed how much the story changed from my original intent. This happens because I allow my characters to come alive, to say what they want, and to do whatever they want. A writer must be careful to never impose their will onto a character, especially the protagonist, but let them have free rein. I firmly believe this makes for more interesting stories. I sometimes don’t know in advance what the chief character in my series, Homicide Detective Colt Jessup, is going to say or do. All I ask of readers is to come along for the ride and see where the story takes them. It will sometimes be a bumpy ride with twists and turns. Please don’t be too harsh on the novelist. He or she writes to entertain or to invite the reader into a new world,. Don’t expect something remarkable like how to sustain life on Mars or cure cancer. Just enjoy the read and come back for more.
A quote from Stephen King about outlining: “Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters’ thesis.”