So the next few days, for me, will be consumed with a massive event on my roleplaying game: an alien invasion. (This wouldn't have been my first choice, as I have no skill for either big battles or space-based scenes, but I've managed to find myself some events to hold for players, and I'm writing flavor news from around the game world.) In working with my fellow staff-folk to build this event, I've been reminded of something ...
I am not a seat-of-the-pants writer.
I may seem like that on the surface because I don't outline plots in great detail, unless I'm dealing with short fiction where precise mapping helps me remain within a reasonable word count (which actually happens almost zero percent of the time, but I digress). What I do, however, is build my world, scenery, characters and motivations to such depth that when put into motion, the plot flows naturally without the need for guideposts.
I've found this even more useful in gaming, because some of those characters, of course, don't belong to me - they belong to the players. So I need to be able to roll with whatever decisions they choose to make.
None of this happens, however, if I don't start from a clear foundation ... and I like to have my map well in advance, so I can get comfortable with the lines.
Of course, I suppose this means that by the time I get back to Unnatural Causes (a Nano project I regretfully abandoned due to too many irons in the fire), it will be absolutely superb ...
Well, I can hope, right?