Plotter vs. Pantser
I'm a plotter, hands down. It works well with my personality as I am very much a planner in my life. I plan my work days, my weeks, my vacations, my finances, etc. When it comes to writing, I at least need a loose plot where I lay out all of the beats for my story. Sometimes things change, and I need to reevaluate a plot point, but I have an outline for every book, and I add to it as I go.
What's happened for the two books I've written is that I started out with a basic plot outline, and then by about chapter 3, I add significant detail, planning down to each scene how everything is going to come out. My chapters tend to be on a the longer side, and usually by chapter 3, I know my characters really well and that makes it easier to plan out the rest of the book. When I do this, I rarely have writer's block because I can easily refer to my outline and know where I'm going. I also write in chronological order, and sometimes I have ideas I want to add back into an earlier chapter, but I try to do that on edit rather than interrupt the flow of writing the first draft.
When I first started my first book, I didn't do this, and for several months, I was stuck on the third chapter. Some of it was because it was a Christmas story and, once we left the Christmas holiday, I was no longer inspired to write it. But I think a lot of it stemmed from the fact that I hadn't planned out the plot. I didn't know my characters well at that point, and I was struggling. That was when I decided to apply to MFA programs in the hope that having deadlines for submitting pages would light a fire under me to write the rest of the book. It wasn't until #NaNoWriMo that I really felt that fire, but having deadlines helped. During November of last year, I spent some time plotting out the remainder of the book, and that made it so much easier to meet both the 50,000 word goal AND finish the book itself.
I know plotting doesn't work for everyone though, and many writers thrive on pantsing. I honestly envy them. The only time I've ever been able to "pants" anything is for short stories because I'm usually inspired by an idea and I just free write. For anything longer, I really need to plot it out so I can see a clear path to my destination and a general understanding of how I will get there.
What are you? A plotter, a pantser, or a plantser? Does it depend on what you're writing? Have you ever tried to force yourself to plot if you're a pantser, or tried to pants it if you're a plotter?
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Book reviews, random thoughts, and writing samples from an aspiring author.