Plans within plans
With the National Novel Writing Month (competition? event? thingy?) underway, there’s a lot of writer-type traffic on Twitter. People are posting word counts, talking about their characters, and generally sharing the trials and tribulations that will hopefully result in a 50,000 first draft in a few weeks.
One subject I’ve seen brought up a lot — plotting and outlining. Some writers seem to swear by it. Before they write a single word of the story, they’ll have pages and pages of notes, character bios, and outlines to help them through it.
I’m kind of strange about plotting, in that I do it in various and unorganized ways. I don’t outline — never really have (in college, I used to just write papers first, then generate an outline from the draft, as I really hated trying to outline something before writing it). I will make notes as I go along to help me remember stuff, whether they’re organized in a Word doc or scrawled hastily on the back of an envelope (or, often, the inside of my left arm).
What about you, writer friends? How extensively do you plot? Any good outlining or plotting tips to share?
And reader friends: do you think it shows through in a finished book that a writer has meticulously outlined beforehand? How do you tell?