Recently, I've put a lot of thought into plot structure. I have most of Dead Gorgeous, but there's this...gray area that won't come in, no matter how hard I squint. I had the same problem with Hot Contract, and I think it's because some plot elements don't come into focus until ninety nine percent of the WIP is written.
In other words--it's a by-product of layering.
For some reason I thought I'd heard the phrase "organic plotting", but every time I looked for it, it was more like a riff on organic writing, which is a nice way of saying, "hey--I'm a pantser."
I started out as a pantser, moved to plotting, and being the totally anal retentive person I am--spent a lot of time researching why plots worked and in what circumstances. Plot is important to stories that have to go somewhere. Tech-thrillers. Mysteries. Psychological suspense? In other words--books where every thread needs to go over and under in exactly the right space, because otherwise--you get holes.
Organic plotting, on the other hand, might as well be called "structured plotting", because it's a cross between flying by the seat of your pants and filling in a twenty page outline. Many character driven novels are organically plotted. Not pantsed, but organically plotted. There's a difference.
Plotting is pre-work, and organic plotting is work that happens in the polishing process. ie? If you have a story where the hero--pstd, overly controlled, bad background ends up in circumstances that trigger one or more of his character traits, you automatically get plot points where the guy acts a certain way, or consciously fights the desire to act a certain way. But until you put your hero in exactly that circumstance, it's hard to tell what he'll do. It's obvious, but not until after the fact.
Not pantsing, because a well constructed hero can only act true to his nature. And not character arc. Character arc is how your character reacts and changes over the course of the story. If your character sleeps through the book, it's not going to be interesting. Something has to happen. Something unique and tailored specifically to this character.
The way this boomerangs is when well meaning writers force a plot on characters who wouldn't logically be there if they were being true to themselves.
Say you want your hero to stand his ground, despite all odds, rescue his lady love from the villain, drop to his knees in a burst of old fashioned chivalry and ask the girl to marry him. What'd you do to create this guy? Is he hot? What does hot have to do with the internal characteristics your hero needs to act in the only way he "can" act? You start from the ground up with a guy who is physically active, read Le Mort d'Arthur as a kid and believes, way down deep inside, he's a knight errant.
I've seen a lot of writers get stuck because their GMC is off, or the plot says point C happens here, and the guy isn't getting in line. Most of the time people won't even admit they "have" a goal or that the goal changes halfway through the novel. It is pantsing within the overall external framework to the point of a logical progression of facts, but also filling in holes like a drywall expert in the second layer.
edited to add:
Three years later, and I'm still working on organic plotting. If you're interested in more on this, I'd suggest the side links to "organic structure parts 1-4" "chaos theory for character-driven stories" and "too much plot parts 1-4".
Thanks for dropping by. :)