The ongoing debate is whether plotting is something worth doing before your write or as you write—otherwise known as plotting vs. pantsing.
Plotters are writers who like to write with a detailed outline. Pantsers like to write by the seat of their pants, sans outline. There is no right or wrong way to write, and new writers need to discover what works best for them.
Personally, as a first time novelist (and virgo), I like to work with a very, very detailed outline. In fact, I am currently working with Karen Wiesner’s First Draft In 30 Days. This book develops an outline to the point where it can be considered the first draft. I also do my work in several software applications which I find help me organize my outline. Currently, I’m using FreeMind (free!!) mind-mapping software and a trial version of Liquid Story Binder.
I’ve tried several times to make a go of my novel (and others in the past) as a pantser, but to no avail. I eventually can’t carry on because I don’t know what to write. With an outline, I’m better prepared as I sit at my computer – with a full mind rather than a blank one.
Some writers feel outlining quashes their creativity, and perhaps it does, but for me, in order to have a well-structured book that ‘works,’ I need to have a plan to follow.
- Lili Saintcrow talks about being a pantser but wishing she could be a plotter at Warner Women.
- Plotter and Pantser duke it out.
- Karin Story’s article: ‘You Know You’re a Plotter/Pantser When…’
- ‘Plotter or Pantser? The Best of Both Worlds’ by Cindi Myers.
- If you’re not sure what type of writer you are, you can take this quiz: What Kind of a Writer Are You?
Apparently, I’m a Plotter (big surprise). “You're a plotter, someone who carefully crafts an intriguing plot to keep the reader hooked from one scene to the next. You thrive on knowing exactly where your story is going, and what's going to happen along the way. Although you might veer off your original plan for the story, mostly you stick to your carefully planned outline. You're a born storyteller who enjoys sharing your stories with others.”
Do you plot, write as you go, or use a combination of both methods? Why?