I like to think I am a free spirit. You know, inside. I tend to be more rule oriented on the outside (just ask my kids), but I always imagined that I was a the kind of writer that would just go where the whims of the muse took me. Because isn't that true creativity? Letting your subconscious self take over and drag you where it will?
Not for me. I have discovered that I am rule oriented on the inside, too. I should have figured this out long ago, with how powerful a voice my internal editor has ("Is that REALLY the word you want right there?"). Or all the wonderful beginnings of books I have that I just free formed until I hit somewhere between 25-60 pages, and wrote myself into a corner, and the voices in my head were screaming, "You wrote WHAT? How stupid are you?" And middles? Forget about it. Those were the murky depths that scared me so bad I ran screaming the opposite direction.
On the way home from the ANWA conference a few weeks ago, conversation in my carpool fell to writing. (Big surprise.) And Jennifer Griffith shared the name of a book that transformed her writing. Write Great Fiction-Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I downloaded it via my phone Kindle before we'd made it home. (The link I included is for the physical version, however. You're gonna want a hard copy, because you going to gobble it down, then read and reread and flip and mark and you're gonna want to be able to do that easier than with the Kindle. Just sayin'.)
I discovered as I read that I am NOT a pantser. I am just lazy, and didn't want to to the prep work. But as he described the different ways to plot out and structure your story, being both a plotter and a panster, I realized that I would much rather plan out the major scenes before hand, get all my ducks in a row FIRST, and then sit down to write, knowing exactly what comes next. And allowing my characters freedom within those parameters. Because isn't that how we thrive in our Heavenly Father's plan? He gives us boundaries and then allows us to bounce around inside those boundaries. We can leave that safety, but then things can get ugly. Like 20 unfinished manuscripts ugly.
So go check out that book. See if your local library has a copy, and read that version for your first gobble session. Then, if his information rings true for you, buy your own copy so you can mark what you need to. (Libraries frown on you marking their books. Just so you know.)