PS: I was watching an interview where you said you used to write a book a month. That’s impressive! What was your process for that?
R.L.: Back in the height of Goosebumps in the ’90s, I did twelve Goosebumps books a year and twelve Fear Street books. I don’t know how I did it. Honestly, I don’t know how! I didn’t get out much, but I wrote a novel every two weeks. The way I could do it was to outline them all first, and I still do. Nobody wants to hear that — everybody hates to outline. Kids especially, they hate that advice. But I do a complete chapter-by-chapter outline of every book before I write it. Everything that’s going to happen in the book is in the outline. So when I sit down to write the book, I’ve done the hard part. I’ve done all the thinking, and then I can write really fast and just enjoy the writing because I’ve done all the work.
Recommended interview (by C. J. Busby) with Frnaces Hardinge
I always plot out my books before I write them. For my first book I even had a chapter by chapter outline. I haven’t gone into quite that much detail in plans for my later books, but I always map out the main incidents, and know what the ending will be.
However, there’s always some room for making things up on the fly. A book should be a journey of discovery for the writer as well as the reader, otherwise the writing process can become dull and leaden. My stories surprise me. Characters develop in unexpected ways. Just now and then, I change my mind about my plot structure halfway through writing the book. It’s still useful to have that first plan, though, even if I decide to deviate from it. I need that trellis, even if I can’t full predict how my story-vine will grow.