Mooderino blogged about pantsing (writing without an outline) and I found it very interesting because I am not a pantser. For the record, if you can do it then more power to you. I can't do it. If I put two of my characters in a room, you'll get ten pages of random conversation that might go somewhere, or might not.
I especially found this statement interesting: But the main difference between plotting and pantsing is that the writer who plots out the story needs to jump to the conclusion of each scene. In order to be able to say what happens next you have to not only say what the scenes about, but how it ends. For a pantser, you only find out how a scene ends when you’ve actually written the scene.
Being a plotter, I never thought of that as odd or challenging. My thought, on reading that, is: if you don't know how the scenes link together, how will you get to that dramatic climax you had a vision of?
Ah, but do pantsers have a vision of a dramatic climax?
Once upon a time when I was writing epic fantasy (epic in volume, if nothing else) I spent upwards of a year with a painfully clear vision in my head. One of my heroes, Kiefan, standing on the staircase above the castle's main hall with his sword in hand. The main hall was full of enemy soldiers who had just broken in. Kiefan stood there with a murderous look on his face because he was on his way to kill Anders (my other hero) and all these enemy soldiers were in his way.
Heck, it's been years and I can still see that moment clear as day.
When I'm drawing my map, which I blogged a bit about here, I'm doing some connect-the-dots. I start with some number of visions of landmark scenes in my head and the function of my outline is to get me from one to the other in a reasonable and hopefully exciting manner. Often, I have to add landmark scenes because it's not unusual to start with only one or two.
Do you have visions of dramatic moments in your stories? Or do you start out with a problem and some characters and see what happens? Some combination of those two approaches?