No, I didn't misspell STOP. By SOTP, I mean Seat Of The Pants writing, the kind of writing you do when you create a manuscript without outlines, storyboards, or snowflakes (I'll explain that later). You have a basic idea in your head, you sit down at your keyboard, and you let your imagination fly as you live the story along with your characters. It's exciting, because you really don't often know what's going to happen next. It can also be dangerous, because you might write yourself into a corner and have a problem finding a way out.
I enjoy SOTP writing. It makes every writing day an adventure. But I cheat a little. I have much of the story in my head, so I know the direction I'm going. I like to keep my ideas in my head instead of on paper, because that keeps them fluid. If I typed them out, I think I would be less likely to allow them to change as new ideas pop up. Keeping them in my head makes me more flexible.
I had no trouble doing this with three of the four Dragons in our Midst (DIOM) books, but Circles of Seven presented a challenge. There was a complexity of depth to the story with intertwined ideas from scene to scene that taxed my brain. I remember telling my editor that the story felt too big for me. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. Still, I finally managed to do it, and I think it worked out well.
My current book, the DIOM prequel, is making me wrestle again, even more so. The story is so huge--taking place over a multi-thousand year period, with threads of connection throughout each time period, each book of the old series, and the future books in the new series--my brain is about to spill out of my ears. I am tempted to write a summary narrative just to get it down somewhere before the details get lost in the jumble of human fraility and approaching senility. We'll see.
If you're a writer, what do you do? Are you a SOTP writer? Do you outline? Are you a snowflake addict? (See Randy Ingermanson's cool method: Click Here)
I'd like to hear (read) your experiences.