To plot or not to plot, that is the question.
I wrote Marquel with a plot and I'm writing the Marquel sequel with a full plot worked out. To write with a plot, you have characters who are predetermined with profiles and back stories.
St. Blair: Children of the Night was a concept in my mind, but not on paper. I wrote this book from my gut. I knew where I wanted to go, but I didn't know who was going along for the ride, meaning my characters and what they were going to do to derail or enhance the story.
To allow a story to unfold on the page, you sometimes are surprised by who shows up and what they intend to do with your lead.
I like both styles of writing, but realistically, I need to plot. I think it's because I learned this from my mentor, Harry Whittington. It took Harry years to learn to plot and once he did, he could write quickly and pump out books literally by the month! He was a full-time author.
Three quarters of the way through writing St. Blair, I had to plot. I had started the book as two parts allowing the story to develop on its own. Then I was advised to blend the two parts, so I did. But I was still wondering how I would get to to the end.
I so frustrated until Eston showed up. He is an important character who stayed away, didn't present himself for a long time! I was like, ok Eston, you should have come in much sooner, because now we have to back track.
Eston was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. I needed him! For the longest time I was just hanging out with Sybille and Blair, wondering what was going to happen? They were equally looking to me for the same resolution.
If I had plotted St. Blair from the beginning, I know Eston would have been there. Characters aren't just whims, they are born to carry a story and they will push their way in one way or another.
I respect freestyle writing, I'm prone to dabble in the technique, but I want to have a road map, so I can get to where I am going without a lot of roadblocks.