This seems to be an endless debate in the writing world.
In the past when asked this question, I would have immediately responded with 'pantster'. I am one of those who writes a synopsis after the story is complete. (I'll be in big trouble if I ever have to sell on a proposal.) Oh, I always have a general idea of where the story is going. In fact most times I have the ending in mind before the beginning. However, what comes in the middle often comes in fits and spurts and flashes of inspiration as I go. I rarely write a story straight through from beginning to end. I write what I have spinning in my head at the moment and then connect the dots later. Toward the finish line of a manuscript, I'll make a detailed play by play of each chapter so I can see where there are holes and such, but this doesn't happen until I'm far, far along in the process.
However, in the very recent past, I've discovered I have a bit of 'plotter' in me. I tend to get inspired by songs. One in particular by a favorite artist has always made me think, "Wow, that would be a great start to a story." But I never really did anything about it beyond that. Until the other day. I actually sat down and wrote two pages of notes about my story idea.
Then out of the blue on another day, an idea for a Thanksgiving story came to me. I was a little surprised by its arrival...usually something triggers an idea...but this one quite literally started niggling in my brain all by itself. So, I plunked myself down at the keyboard and wrote three pages of notes about this one.
And you know what? These pages of notes? They looked suspiciously like a synopsis. There's character development, plot, conflict (both internal and external), and a few basic scene outlines. I've also started making some detailed notes for a re-write I need to work on. Hmn? Have I gone over to the other side?
I guess every author has to find what works for him or her. And maybe the technique is different from book to book. So what about you? Are you a pantster, a plotter, or somewhere in the middle?
Debra St. John
A Christmas to Remember: available now from The Wild Rose Press