There's no magic formula for writing a book. (If there was I'd patent the sucker and make a gazillion bucks....but I'd give you, dear readers of Killer Chicks, at a significant discount.)
In this Writer's Digest article, best selling thriller writer David Morrell talks about wanting to be surprised by his story, while the equally successful Ken Follett reveals his outline is typically 50 typed pages.
I'd guess from reading that article that Morrell is a pantser and Follet a plotter.
Me? I like to think of myself as a "paradigm-er".
Outlines never worked for me (I blame those pesky Roman numerals). I have trouble envisioning things that are presented in list form, while horizontal paradigms make perfect sense to me.
(If you're unfamiliar with paradigms, check out these examples from Syd Field. Yes, they're for screenplays, but the basic concept can be carried over to novels. No, I don't think they're the "right" way to do it...I just happen to use a bastardized version of the concept (I'm a big believer in working in 4 acts...more about that next Tuesday) to get my own story down.)
For my NaNoWriMo project I made up seven separate paradigms.
1) My main story
2) My main subplot
3) My motivation story
5) Love interest
7) Allies who are also Complications
***I don't really have an antagonist in this story, but if I did, I'd definitely have an antagonist paradigm too....after all he/she is just as responsible for driving a story toward its conclusion***
Here's how my Employment paradigm works (keep in mind that this is not a main storyline, just something that complicates my MC's life):
Inciting Incident -- MC finds out she's in danger of losing job
Turning Point 1 - She's fired
Pinch 1 - Starts job search
Mid Point - Meets someone who suggests a new career path
Pinch 2 - Job interview
Turning Point 2 - Begins training for new job
(no climax or resolution needed because it's not a main storyline)
Can you see how figuring out all of these moments for each of your storylines, could be helpful?
So that's how I'll be tackling my National Novel Writing Month project, what about you? Are you a pantser? A plotter? Or something else entirely?
You can find me at NaNoWriMo under JB_Lynn (don't forget the underscore) and I'm tossing out tips and tricks every day this month over at JB Lynn's Confessions of a Crime Writer.