Writers fall into two broad categories: plotters and non-plotters. There are those who map out every twist and turn before they write the first word, Post-it notes littering their working space. Others (and I am one) simply start writing and go with the flow. Characters appear and move on. Suddenly a door opens and a new character is standing there. Or someone says something you had not expected.
It was therefore interesting to have Michael Robotham reveal in an Age interview by Jason Steger that he, too, doesn’t plot in advance. “If I knew what was going to happen right through from chapter to chapter it would be like a normal job,” said this hugely successful crime fiction writer. “I wouldn’t be excited about going to work every day.”
He added: “Things happen when I write that excite me, things surprise me, things shock me and things frighten me. And if they do me, they must the reader as well.”
It doesn’t always work out. He began his latest book, Bleed For Me, twice and discarded 30,000 words of what were very different novels. According to Steger, Robotham calls this “headlight” writing in which you see just as far ahead as a car’s headlights on a dark night allow you to. And he admitted “the danger is you drive straight off a cliff and there’s no going back”.