Coffee Dates: Pantser or Plotter

Good Morning, Creatives!

Friday is finally upon us! How was your week? Any new ideas pop up, or old projects wrapped up and tied with a neat bow? Friday is the perfect time to wrap things up, or to birth a new idea when you have all weekend to indulge in a little daydreaming or extra journaling.

This week’s question is about just that, and it’s an age-old question for writers everywhere! Are you a pantser or a plotter? In other words, do you plot your stories out beforehand, or discover them as you go?

My Process

I used to be a die-hard plotter. I would cover my walls with sticky notes and plan out every scene verbatim. But eventually my characters started to rebel, and I found myself drawn into new territory every time I sat down to write. Now, especially with new books upon me and new ideas taking shape, I have been forced a few times to slow down and plot a bit out beforehand. I always like to know the quarter mark, halfway mark, and three-quarter mark, and what starts the climax. Other than that, I usually let it unfold as it comes!

My Struggles Within That

I don’t always know what’s happening next! World-building catches me out fairly often, and I’m forced to push pause on writing and figure out what’s happening in my head. Sometimes that slows the process down a good bit, and sometimes it changes the direction of the story so drastically that even I scarcely recognize it. Life as a writer is always an adventure!

Your Thoughts

Which are you? Do you plot your books religiously before you ever write a word, or do you start with a few ideas, a stunning character, and a devil-may-care attitude that carries you through to the last page? I’d love to hear about your process, and how it’s changed over the years as you’ve grown as a writer. Tell me about it in the comments!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Rob says:

    I’m a panster. As much as I’ve wanted to be a plotter, plotting isn’t writing, and I get so caught up in world-building and character development that it halts progress on the story. I got to a point once where I tried to create a spreadsheet that plotted out what every character–every single one, including Random Zombie #57–was doing every second of every day for the year my story took place. It was color-coded and very pretty, but my computer crashed and I realized I wasn’t doing anything useful.

    Like you, Abigail, I seem to do better with a rough idea of where I want the story to go, but I give my characters creative control. Some writers describe it as watching characters doing things and writing up the incident report, and for me that’s an apt description.

    I envy writers who can be so organized they know what their characters will do before they do it, but I find the fun of writing for me is in watching what the characters will do. Sometimes I have to take the reigns back and say, “No, that’s not what happened, it went like this,” but for the most part I do better when I just write without planning.

    My improv group is perfect in that regard, because we have a prompt, a time limit, and very few rules. It really helps to turn the inner editor off and just put the ink on the page.

    Liked by 1 person

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