If you're keeping track of my reading this year, you've noticed a lot of books by Charlaine Harris. I used to read a lot of mysteries. A lot of mysteries. Then I took a couple college English classes and fell in love with more literary style fiction. I enjoy the character development and the "pretty" language. Plot isn't as important in lit-fic, and I'm okay with that.
I'd love to say I'm a lit-fic writer. But, realistically, I know I fit more toward mainstream than literary. And that requires a stronger plot. D.B. loaned me a stack of the mysteries she's reading for research purposes. Mysteries are all about the plot. If the plot doesn't work, the big reveal doesn't make sense and the mystery fails. One could argue that the Sookie Stackhouse books are fantasy and not mystery. One could, but one would be wrong. I don't care that they're in the fantasy section at B&N. I don't care that they're full of vampires, witches, were-folk and faires. There is always a mystery to solve. Her other series are more definitely mysteries.
Between reading more plot-heavy books and using some of the planning/plotting tools I've found over the years (including the ones on edittorent and red pencil), I'm getting a better handle on the big picture of my stories. That overall story arc. That can get lost when you write the way I do by coming up with an interesting character, having just a vague idea of what happens and then winging it. I've been trying to do more pre-plotting. Using index cards and such to keep a map of where I want it to go.
My hope is that for future projects, I won't have such a huge rewrite job after the first run through CWC. We'll see. It does seem to be helping with the rewrites I'm working on.