One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How do you write? Do you pre-plan your story?”
Well ok, that’s technically two, but they always go hand-in-hand.
Do I pre-plan my story? Well you first need to understand the difference between the story and the plot.
The story is the overall work: Jake Sullivan gets caught up in the theft of a virus and ends up on a covert mission to recover it before 1000s of children die.
So yes, it is planned. It has to be otherwise you have nowhere to go and nothing to write.
The plot is how Jake gets involved and what happens on the journey. Best practice (apparently) is to know all your plot points from the start and which characters appear in which scenes.
I can’t work that way. For me, it needs to be much more organic. I know my story, I might have scenes in my head, but I like to write without knowing what’s going to happen to my characters.
As I write, as the conversations between characters emerge, the direction becomes obvious to me. Doing it this way, I can be as surprised or as shocked as my reader will be. That’s a good barometer for me. Yes you can be shocked and surprised even when it’s you doing the creating.
Seasoned authors will be wincing at this point, but to me it just proves that there’s no hard and fast rules.
My advice is, go with the flow.