I generally start a new manuscript with a 'lightbulb' moment. My subconscious mulls things over without any assistance from me and suddenly I'm presented with these characters I must bring to life. Off I go, fingers racing over the keyboard, maybe I even get as far as three chapters or so, then just as suddenly as the lightbulb switched on, off it goes. My characters have deserted me. Why? Because I haven't given them anywhere to go, enough motivation to get there, or enough conflict to make their journey engrossing.
If I was a racehorse...
Plotting has always been my downfall. I don't know how many 'starts' I've got filed away in my computer or typed onto sheaves of paper before computers came along. And it's not only writing. There are many partially-finished projects around my home. If I compare myself to a race horse I think I'd tear out of the starting gates with tremendous enthusiasm, before the halfway point I'd be looking around for something easier or more interesting to do, and by the end I would've wandered off the field without anyone even noticing. It's not all bad: being a good starter has given me experience in many different fields of work, it sent me bungee jumping and to India on not much more than a whim, it's given me the opportunity to get projects off the ground and see someone else run with them and be successful.
I CAN complete this MS
But I know if I'm ever going to gain accomplishment as a writer, I need to rein in this tendency. With this in mind I trawled the net looking for advice. One of the resources I came across was Holly Lisle's 'Introduction to Plotting' and her Free Plot Outline Mini Course. Referring to the course, I've written my very first chapter-by-chapter plot outline and I'm feeling fairly confident I can complete the manuscript I'm working on because I've given my characters directions and goals that I can write towards. I feel as if I know my characters much better than in previous manuscripts. I've gained a better understanding of the intertwining of plot and character where before I looked at them as separate entities running parallel.
I'd love to know how you handle lightbulb moments v plotting.