From an interview with Judd Apatow, I learned that the characters and plot for Freaks and Geeks (a television show I never watched) were designed around actors.
First they found their actors. Then they developed the stories based upon those people. Their predispositions. Their predilections. Their personal histories.
I’m fascinated by this.
Similarly, the plots of my books are very much determined by my characters. I find the characters (usually a single protagonist), and then the characters strike out and find the plot.
I just write, hoping that they will find a plot sooner than later.
It’s worked so far. In fact, the only book that I started with plot rather than character first was the book that required the most revision.
Most of my novels were exceptionally light edits. Ready to go.
It turns out that if I take Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks approach and allow my characters to dictate the story, things work out better.
How strange. It’s almost as if the more control we relinquish over plot, the better our stories will be.
No one taught me that in college.