I’m not a planner.
Not in the large scale sense, anyway. I have a concept, a few people, and I know where it will end. Then I run with it and see what happens.
This, my friends, is a bouncy castle crap storm way to write. Fun until you know what you’re bouncing on.
I regularly write myself into corners. I mess up plot lines, lose threads, derail my characters, and generally make a poo-shoot of it. I often have to delete paragraphs, pages, and even chapters to get back on track. This is not only like stepping on gum barefoot, but it’s also as useful as spending time raking snow in an avalanche.
So I’m becoming more of a planner. I’m actually doing what I tell my authors to do; I’m defining my characters, delving into my conflict, and delineating my story arc. I don’t always stick to the plan, and new stuff always makes an appearance to alter the story somewhere along the way. And I love that.
But I really do find the arcs particularly useful. Beginning, middle, end. Crisis point. Primary goals. Pulse points. When I get stuck, I go back to my arc and see the story through the eyes that originally conceived it, and that often gets me back on track. If you’re interested in an example there are a few around here.