A "nuts and bolts" question

How do you all work out your plots? Is everything meticulously planned beforehand, or do you just go with it as the writing happens? Do you find that sometimes the plot direction changes partway into the story?

When I started writing "Meggie of Green Gables," I had actually planned for Meggie and Johnny to eventually marry. The more I wrote about them, though, the more I sensed that they would not be at all well suited to each other. I hadn't decided who would replace Johnny, though, until partway through "Weeping May Tarry," when Will arrived unexpectedly on my pages, and I realized I was looking at Meg's one true love.

In "The Sound of the Sea," I'm working on the final chapter now, and even though I had pretty much every major plot point mapped out beforehand, I veered away in some big ways: one major character who was supposed to die I just couldn't let go; one who was supposed to have a romance informed me in no uncertain terms that s/he much preferred being single; and an unexpected reconciliation happened a few chapters back that really pleased me, but was not planned at all until I started writing the chapter.

So now I'm curious: does that happen to you? Do you find your heros and heroines, like Anne's Averil, "unmanageable," or are you able to keep them reined in and obedient to your dictation?
2 Responses
  1. Honestly, a little of both. I have definite ideas of what I want to happen, but the in-between things come along as I write and plan to some extent. My plans for Gilly were some that occurred to me during my first version of it. Things always just move from there.

  2. Connie Says:

    Meg and JOHNNY! Wow, I can see how that might have seemed the right thing. I do love Johnny. But I love Will more.

    I usually think of a character first, and then I imagine them moving around their lives, and that helps me know what story they expect me to write for them. Everything just sort of unfolds, and there are very few changes.

    The biggest one I can think of is Cecilia and Marshall. She was supposed to marry Blythe, but everyone was so against that and I fell so in love with Marshall that it had to happen.

    In Blythe By Name, I wanted to write a story about Faith just after her marriage but this little red-headed freckle faced kid named Sally popped up and wouldn't go away. SHE wanted to be in the story, and wouldn't go away until I let her.