Firstly, I must preface this question with this statement: I don't believe that literary fiction must be plotless. I just think that the plot isn't as adrenaline-fueled in lit fic as it is in other genres. That being said, do you plot out your literary novels? Do you do an outline? I'm planning on it because I'd like to have that compass to guide me as I write. It'll be interesting because I'm sure it's going to test my comfort levels...in my genre fiction, the plot points always have these zany twists and turns. :)
I've been the type of writer who makes it up as they go along. But lately, I've really come to appreciate creating an outline to give me a sense of direction and organization. Having an outline doesn't stop me from being creative, because I can change it if necessary. But it does help me keep focused.
I spend months with my characters before I write the first word. Then I outline. However, my characters have a life of their own and don't always follow my direction. In the case of memoir, my current work on my parents, it helps to have an outline so all those little things that made them unique won't be left out. The story opens in Brooklyn before the Great Depression. It's probably my hardest work yet.
Hi, my characters are real to me as well.
I'm more a "pantser." A night driver with the headlights on. When I attempt plot-driven work ... for me, it becomes stiff. I know others for whom it works great. Sometimes I wish I could work that way but, alas, I'm prone to follow an idea that strikes me at 10 pm.
I'm asleep by 10:00 pm, but that's probably because I'm up at 5:00 am.
Like Terri I am a "pantser." It's the way I do all things, life, writing, beadweaving. It can be good most of the time. Other times it can make for a lot of stress. In writing, however, it is always good for me. I never outline. I want to see where the characters take me rather than try to fit them into a structure. I do outline later, when the novel is near completion. That's just so I can keep the novel flow at a glance.
I clean and cook by the seat of my pants, but I am trying to quilt in a structured, organized way. However, if you saw my sewing room.... I'm glad you can't see my sewing room.
I like to have a particular myth in mind and free associate from that ---with mythic structure, like Orpheus and Eurydice, or Persephone (the two I really love), I understand the arc of the story almost instinctually.
also in my latest book, The Blue Hours it took a long time to bring the story together, but it really clicked when I decided that the arc would mirror the hero's journey. many problems solved, almost magically (not really :) I highly recommend The Hero's Journey by Christopher Vogler, if you think that might work for you as well..
I guess I fall under the label of being a "Pantser" as well. My current WIP is one that I have started over several times, each time with an intention and somewhat of an outline. This time, no outline, no idea whats going to happen in the next chapter, scene, etc until I write the one before it. I am further along with this book than I've ever been in my previous attempts. Im trusting the creative flow on this one and for the first time it feels authentic to me. I have to admit, I also am enjoying the element of surprise that I did not experience in outlining. Im truly going to enjoy fleshing out the book in the next draft but for now, Im really loving simply watching it unfold in its own organic way.