I try to plot. But I hardly ever manage it –at least not when I have just begun a story. Often before knowing my plot I know my characters. I know who they are, how they are related and how they look. Not having written about them before, I don’t know them completely but I know enough. I also tend to have a blurry image of the world they live in. And I know that once these characters come together in this blurry world something amazing is going to happen. My only problem is I don’t know what that something is.
In that moment, I begin my story. I concentrate from moving from one scene to the next, trying to figure out what is going to happen next. Most of the time, for the first few pages of the story, even if I do know what is going to happen, I don’t know why it is happening. I don’t know the point of the whole writing or where the current situation is going to lead me. But I keep going. Until, half way through the beginning of the story, I stop, because eventually I have to decide why someone is stuck in well while her brother is having a fist fight with her best friend. Or why two people are running down the street screaming. I know these are all smaller conflicts that are turning around a larger one. But what is that larger conflict? What is the plot of the story?
Outlines tend to be useless for me, unless I make them moments just before I use them. Otherwise, they tend to be deleted without being used or stored away in some file in my computer. So what I do is think of one sentence, like a prompt to guide me for the rest of the story. This prompt has one requisite: it must summarize the main conflict of my story. That one sentence becomes my plot. Once I have it, I keep writing.
Now perhaps this isn’t the most organized way to go about writing, but is the best way I can work. Of course there is always a little bit of planning in my stories. I write down notes and clues on notebooks. One thing I tend to do a lot is write the dialogue in a script form so that I can included later on in the story. But I don’t exactly plot in advance. Mostly I just keep writing, and then guide myself by that one sentence. I am pretty sure I am not the only one out there.