This is going to be a short post because I will freely admit that I am not much of a plotter although I usually have an idea of where the story is going.😊 "Spoiler Alert" (You may want to jump down to the next paragraph!) For example, in Barkerville Beginnings, I knew right from the start Harrison's gold mining venture would not be successful and he would have to find his fortune another way.
I do however loosely follow the stages of the Hero's Journey * , starting with The Call to Adventure which sets the characters on their path. Again using Barkerville Beginnings as my example, Rose's Call to Adventure is when Edmund threatens to take Hannah from her, and Harrison's Call is when he is jilted at the altar and must find another way other than marrying a wealthy woman to rejuvenate his family's fortunes. I also give my characters choices because their decisions and ensuing actions drive the plot. Do the characters change? Yes, but it’s due to their experiences and not anything I force them into!
I write historical romance which means the stories are set in an earlier time period but the main plot is the romance. Therefore every one of my books follows the romance arc:
Make Love for the first time
Happily Ever After
Sometimes I’ll skip a step, for example, Barkerville Beginnings is a sweet romance therefore there is no love making scene. Also, there is no set pattern to this, sometimes the meeting and the first touch can happen in the same scene. Finally, the stages don't need to be spaced evenly apart throughout the story, just wherever is appropriate to fit the developing plot.
* Find more information on The Hero's Journey here: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero%27s_journey.htm