Great stories have been written from plans, and also from just writing without one. It does not matter which you do as long as it feels right to you. You have to find your process and use it, if that means trying many then that is what you have to do. There is no correct way to write so just keep doing what you are doing, because as far as I am concerned if it feels good then that's success <3
RE: Plot. I say to just go for it. Plots weigh down an author's creativity and the freshness of the characters, I think. It's important to have a grand idea to go off of before starting to write a long story, but I believe the true voice of an author emerges when he/she lets go of rules. The imagination runs wild and beautiful things happen. Let the story evolve, let the characters build the world, let your natural imagination do the work. You might be surprised at what happens.
That’s a good point. I also try to think more about what overall themes I want to convey than the plot. It’s just difficult sometimes for continuity’s sake. For example, most of the plot points I’ve been chewing on for the past few weeks have been in regards to my novel’s backstory.
For marktswimmer's question: For me personally, I am a really detail oriented person. I find it most helpful if I have the major points mapped out, then figure out the small bits as I go. As writers, our abilities are constantly changing--in six months or so, we might not find certain information relevant anymore or might find something new that works even better. It's all about the journey for me and having a basic idea of where I'm going.
@marktswimmer: I think it matters quite a bit what kind of person you are. If you know or feel that planning out a story meticulously will deter you from it and make you bored of it, I'd jump right in. If you know you will get lost/confused/frustrated with a story just by going in cold, then plan it out. Personally, I like to just start a story and see where it takes me, but I also have fun planning it too! So there is also an in-between... just find what works for you!
I don't know if it really matters to plan out a story or not beforehand. I've done it different ways-- I've written stories where I had every scene planned out, or where I had nothing planned out and just went with it, or where I only had the ending planned. In the end, I always ended up going back and editing whatever I felt didn't work. So I think it doesn't matter so much the planning stages, because you can edit it anyway. I usually spend much more time editing than actually writing.
For me I find that the best way is to have a really good idea and a general understanding of where you want the idea to go. This could be plot-wise or ending-wise. Recently for me, the ending of a story I just wrote could have gone 3 different ways, but had the same overall feel to the ending. Meanwhile the plot was a mess. Does that help?
do you think it's better to plan out long, complicated stories in a lot of detail, or to just have a general idea in your head and dive right into actually writing it?
You know, I think about this question a lot. I was just thinking about it about ten minutes ago actually, because I’ve had this idea in my head for a novel for, I don’t know, maybe 6 months now, and I’m always thinking of more plot points. Or just working them out.
What I find works for me (and again, this is just me) is knowing how a story is going to end. Then the writing process is all about moving the action and your characters to that point, but what’s in between the beginning and the end is the part that you can “dive right into”. I love seeing where a story will take me while I’m writing, because a lot of times it goes places that I don’t expect. But if you know the ending, you won’t end up going way off on some big tangent and hitting a dead end and being like “wait, this sucks”. So it’s sort of the best of both worlds, for me.
If anyone else wants to chime in, send an ask!