I've always been a plotter. I spend weeks or months planning and plotting and outlining and sketching and bullet point listing before I ever even start writing the story. Then, when I'm 'ready' I start to write. I've always felt like this worked for me. I like to have things lined up before I dive in. I'm a toe dipper in the cold lake too. So when I started plotting out my most recent novel, I got sort of stuck.
I'd been thinking about my main character for a long time. I'd written a few sketches of her. I knew where her strengths were, and her faults and weaknesses. I had a fairly clear picture of what her arc of change would be. The problem was, I didn't know the events of a 'story' to get her there. But this character just kept pulling on me, wanting me to write about her. So I did.
I started writing. Without a plot. Without an outline. Well, I sort of had one, but I knew going in that is was weak. I knew that there wasn't enough happening. I knew the story would never work unless I came up with more action and excitement and adventure. And I knew I didn't have that yet. But I started writing anyway.
An amazing thing happened. As I wrote about Sal, the story plot revealed itself. I knew exactly what was going to happen in the story to bring her traveling along her arc. I'd actually written four chapters before I realized what the external plot would be. I had to go back and insert it into those early chapters of course, but it worked. A plotter like me actually did a little bit of pantsing.
Here's what else is amazing. I love this book. I love this character. I feel like as the writer, I understand her at a level I never have. I feel like I let her tell her story, instead of me forcing a story onto her. Maybe it's all part of my progression as a writer, but I feel like I've turned a corner in how I craft a book, and in how I understand a character.
These baby steps of progress for me create leaps of progress for my work.
Writing for children is a passion - along with reading kid's books, writing plays for kids, and teaching kids how to write!