I've heard that some writers sit down to write with outlines of their plot, full knowledge of exactly what's going to happen, when, and even have characterization sheets, family trees, etc.
I've also heard that some writers just sit down at the computer (typewriter, notebook, what-have-you) and channel the movie they see in their heads, just as surprised as their readers will be with every new twist and turn the plot takes, every line that comes from their characters' mouths. They learn their characters as they go, like discovering new friends and enemies.
I fall into the latter group. There have been times I've thought I must have a psychic connection to some far-away planet, because some of this stuff couldn't possibly come from MY brain. And I have disagreements with my characters at times, because they want to go in a completely different direction than I thought the plot was going to take. Often, they have MUCH better ideas than I do, though, and they take me to places that have surprised, shocked, and left me speechless.
For instance, who knew that my main character in the book I'm working on now, Arianna, was going to want three mates? I had no clue. I knew she wanted two. That much was clear from the start. But number three surprised the heck outta me. Surprised her, too, for the record. And she's fighting it, hard, but we all know she'll give in. But she's drawing the line at three. (so far...who knows what will happen as I go?)
And one of my characters, a main character, keeps whispering to me that he needs to die at some point, but won't tell me when, or how, or WHY? I love him! Why in the world would he leave us?? He'd better have a damn good reason, is all I've got to say!
I have been asked what it's like to create an entire new world, or in this case, a new universe, as the 'world' isn't limited to this planet for very long.
I wish I could answer that. I didn't create it. I knew a few basic things when I started out, but really, the world exposes itself to me. It's not like a painting, where I sit down and build it, layer by layer, adding details as I go. It's more like a scratch-off, if that makes any sense, though the layer analogy works there. hmmm. I'll have to work on that one a bit. :P
When I sit down to write, I see an image in my head, usually just like a movie. I watch the movie and the words flow through me, onto the computer screen. There have been times that I've been so caught up in what I'm 'seeing' that I don't even know what I've written... I am merely the medium through which the words flow. At times, I've sat down with a cup of coffee at my side, intent only on editing this chapter or that scene, and I find myself, 10,000 words later, with a very cold cup of stale coffee, a rumbling tummy that thinks I'm starving to death, a bladder that's threatening anarchy, and a new facet to my characters and world that I hadn't known was hiding beneath the surface.
I never thought that my current story, Ishira, would go beyond one book, or that it would span multiple planets, space stations, star systems, and generations. I thought it was going to be a simple little naughty erotica with two heroes, one heroine, and a finite end to their story with happily-ever-after on the last page.
Instead, it's turning into an epic tale of genocide, war, machinations that span centuries to get to this point, genetic tampering, psychic battles and so many more events that I haven't seen yet. There's a prophet involved, though there often is, and for some reason, there will be dragons, though I haven't met them yet. I just know they're lurking there because, surprise surprise, one of the characters told me so. The fact that this character is only a day old is negligible. He saw it, so it will happen. I'll let him grow up a little bit first.
The thing is, creating a world, for me, is not so much sitting down with a plan... it's just letting the characters introduce me to themselves, their histories, their legends and songs. It's looking at their universe through their eyes, experiencing it through their adventures, and dealing with it as they do, minute by minute, scene by scene.
I wish I was a writer that could sit down with an outline and character sheets, a plan in mind and organized. I wish I was that way in real life, actually! But I'm not and I never have been. All I know is that I have worlds in my head, vast expanses of space, time, and the entirety of creation to work with. Anything at all can happen, and it often does!
I don't know where my current storyline will end. Five books? Ten? More? I can only hope! I just know that I love my characters and they are nowhere near finished with me. They're telling the tale. I'm just an interested observer, writing it all down.