I've read a lot of advice from more experienced writers than I that it's generally a good idea to let the characters tell your story. Unfortunately, that isn't working for me. I'm meticulous. I get overwhelmed if I haven't previously created notes on setting, characters, plots, and scenes. I'm currently working on an entry for a writing contest. It has a word limit of 1500 - 4000 words. I also have a deadline. I set a personal deadline for Wednesday, but the contest ends at the beginning of July. Because of these two conditions, I have to be as efficient as possible. Therefore, I can't see how I can afford to let my characters hijack scenes. The more things they introduce into the story, the more loose ends I have to tie up at the end of my word limit. Besides, I'm happy with the story I have outlined and confident that it would make a good entry. After I'd outlined setting, characters, and plot, I began writing. Trusting my instincts, I allowed the characters to behave and solve problems as I felt they truly would. Unfortunately, this took the scene in directions I hadn't planned on, and introduced new elements that would complicate later parts of the plot. It also took up valuable word space. Is this a problem of not planning enough? I thought I was thorough, but perhaps I should've outlined every individual beat and scene before writing? Or is it a problem of trying too hard to adhere to my script? How do I meet my word limit and use my time most efficiently while still telling the story I planned? I'm looking specifically for advice from others who do at least some planning beforehand.