Some writers like to plot their whole book before they write it while some like to fly into the mists, feeling their way as they go. My guess is most writers are somewhere in between, with a bit of mystery on the journey and specific plot points in mind, rising up like Stonehenge out of the fog.
I'm all about writing the way that works best for you, so I'm not here to recommend one method over another. However, I will say that for me, finding out what's hiding in the fog is part of the pleasure of writing. And sometimes, depending on what I find, the wonderful surprises can improve my goals and my characters.
There's a picnic in the book I'm writing now that is going to contain a significant event. I know it will, but I have to ease up to it so the narrative reads naturally and we're not just dumped into the picnic with the event in question already in progress. So out of nowhere -- or out of the mists -- came this dunking booth. One particular main character I would have expected to utterly refuse to get into the booth did so willingly while another, who hadn't evidenced much personal vanity up till that point, balked because he didn't want to ruin his hair. But those tweaks really fit those characters. The dunking booth stays. Now I just have to figure out how the booth leads to the event I'd intended to happen at the picnic in the first place.
Really, it's like life. While driving to visit the inlaws the other day, we were worried the baby was coming down with a stomach virus our first grader had the previous week and were discussing how it might affect our mini-vacation. Should we turn around and go home? Should we take the chance? Should we get a motel room? While we were discussing the baby's health, the first grader, who had fully recovered from her bout with the virus, leaned over in her seat and christened her daddy's beloved and squeaky clean car with ... Yeah, you guessed it. An unexpected treat.
Okay, so writing with a bit of mist isn't precisely like what happened in our car because I have faith that the end result isn't as vomitous! But unexpected things can definitely occur, and it's up to you to decide if the new path leads where you where you want to end up or whether it's a sneaky little will o the wisp, trying to lure you off the trail and suck you into deadly bog of stomach virus.
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SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--Available now, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--Available soon, Samhain Publishing