Okay, first serious post here–well, serious for me, at least.
This is the thing: I can write fairly fluently when I finally sit down to do it, but I can’t for the life of me develop plotlines to structure my writing. When I write I usually find interesting new expressions, cool bits of description, psychological insights, etc., but the piece ends up going nowhere–it just stops when I run out of gas, without any forward movement into a plot.
When I try to outline a plot up front, the whole business seems so contrived and uninspiring that the writing falls flat.
I’d really like some advice on plot pre-construction. I’ve looked through a lot of the posts here, and I know that some writers just start writing, and then plot arises out of the initial writing. How does that work? Do you really start with nothing, or do you have some rudimentary plot in mind? (You must pre-think character names, right?)
How much plot do you need to have before writing begins, and in what form do you develop it (e.g., formal outline, precis paragraph, chart, etc.)?
Outlines leave me cold; writing without outlines revs me up but takes me nowhere… 🙁