To Plan or Not to Plan? - that is the question that most beginning writers ask, including myself four years ago when my journey with Dreaming Dangerously began.
After writing three novels and planning novels 4 and 5, I've learned quite a lot about the way I work best. I'm the kind of writer who needs an idea I'm excited about, and then I have to plan. Writing 70,000 to 80,000 words is intimidating. Even more intimidating is revising and editing that much text.
What benefits me the most is following a plan. I don't really outline, per se. It's too rigid for me. However, I do know what I want to happen in each scene of my books. Each scene fits into the plot line like a puzzle piece. Some scenes I end up cutting, and some new scenes have to be added after the first three or ten revisions. (Yeah, I said ten revisions of 70,000 words - writing is hard work.) Other times, I just have to rearrange the scenes so the storyline makes more sense.
The benefit of the plan is that at least I have some sort of road map. I know the destination of my story before I begin writing it. I have to make sure it's worth the journey for the reader. I don't want to write 65,000 words and then not be able to end the story in a way that would satisfy my readers or myself.
One of the best ways to plan out a novel is using the Snowflake Method created by Randy Ingermanson on his website AdvancedFictionWriting.com. I had no clue how to plan out a novel, but his method makes a lot of sense. I also like his advice on writing scenes at Writing the Perfect Scene.