Take off first. Plot course later...Try not to crash.
If I flew an aircraft like I write a book, Transport Canada would be revoking my pilot’s license. When I sit down and start a new story, it’s strictly seat-of-the-pants. Some idea, or scene, or opening line will strike me and I take off from there. Later, I start plotting my course. (I think they have a rule about making flight plans first.)
For me, it’s important to get that first creative surge going so I can get a sense of whether or not the story is worth the hours of research, writing and rewriting necessary to produce a novel. Some ideas just don’t fly. I have notebooks full of openings, with maybe a brief outline, and nothing else. Sometimes I go back to them, looking for an idea that might have found its time.
A Bodyguard to Remember was a little unusual in that I wrote almost the entire first draft by the seat of my pants. I don’t usually get further than the first couple of chapters before I go into planning and research mode. This time I had a most of the law enforcement research at my fingertips after working on Deadly Legacy and Deadly Season. I also had a good background in military protocols because of personal and family experience and academic research.
Okay, let’s be honest. I had to update my military research and make some significant changes in the story details. Most of my previous research was circa WWII except my own experience which was circa 1980. Can we say a bit out of date? Still, that was on draft two.
A lot of the military parts ended up being jettisoned. They weighed down the story and had to go...but not far. They helped Ghost Writer get written.
So, I'm both a plotster and a pantster but mostly I fly on the wings of my research.
She has to deal with two kinds of spooks: spies and ghosts. The question is which one is trying to kill her?