I was listening to the Writing Excuses Podcast yesterday. If you are trying to write genre fiction at any level and you haven't found this podcast, you really need to. Here's the link: http://www.writingexcuses.com/
I found it because I'm a Brandon Sanderson fan. But, there are four authors who are all intelligent, imaginative, and humorous.
There was a question about "organic" writing. Also known as "seat of the pants" writing, if you're not familiar with the term, it's when you just start writing with an idea, not really knowing where it will go. Really, even with organic writing, you should have an ending in mind before you start writing to give your plot some direction, but some organic writers don't even have that. The question was, what do you do to keep your plot moving, when you're an organic writer, and you don't know where to go next.
Brandon suggested something that I really liked. He said to imagine what's the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist, of course while moving the plot forward, and what is the best thing that could happen. Then figure out how to make it look like the worst thing is going to happen and have her/him overcome in it a way that no one will expect.
I know Brandon is very "Architectural" in outlining a story, which is the opposite of organic. Mary, on the podcast, is more in between the two extremes. But, she does lay out what she wants to happen in each chapter. Someone else also mentioned that a person doesn't need to write linearly. If you're an organic writer and you're stuck, move to another section and write, even if it's far down the eventual plot line. In writing that part you might find how to bring the two pieces together.
In preparing for Nanowrimo this year I am going much more extreme in my planning than I have in years past. My first three Nanos were very organic. My second year I found myself writing myself into plot circles. I got more than 65K words written but never finished the story.
Last year was the first time I really had an outline of the whole book, but as usual got off on enough organic tangents that I was still interested in the story as it developed. Sometimes the plot twists which are best are those unexpected ones which surprise you as you write them.
This year I am world building and character building the heck out of it. I've got tectonic plates, weather and ocean current patterns. I have races with differing values and leaders with conflicting political intentions and hidden agendas.
I think my fear in the first few years was that I would get into it, write a story, finish and not have enough words. I find that much less of a concern now. In fact, this may be the year that I have too much story for one book. We'll see.
If you're a Nanowrimer, I'd love to be a writing buddy with you so that we can encourage one another. Here's a big surprise, my Nanowrimo name is Norvaljoe. Look me up. I follow back anyone who follows me.
Here's the link: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/norvaljoe