I’ve spent the last week and a half plotting. And I’ve discovered something: I actually like it.
Up until now, I’ve been a pantser. I’ll have a general idea that I want to write about, I’ll open up a blank document and start writing by the seat of my pants. Once I got to know the main character I might plot out the next chapter or two, maybe go back and rewrite the opening. But plot out the whole story? Not a chance.
So when the second assignment for my class was to come up with an outline, I panicked. I wasn’t sure if I could plan that far ahead. I didn’t know my characters well enough. How would I do all the research in such a short amount of time?
It was interesting to see how other people approached the assignment. Some wrote a beginning, a middle and an end. Some wrote a line or two for each chapter. One person wrote a two page synopsis.
I wrote in scenes. This is just the way my brain works. A chapter may end up being more than one scene. I don’t know yet. But I like being able to move scenes around until they flow logically and I often think up later scenes that tie in with earlier plot points. I also wrote a few pages for myself about the characters, getting to know them so I could plot their paths.
The book I’m working on for this class is a MG action/adventure with a mystery at its heart. So really, knowing where I’m going to end up is pretty essential to being able to tell this story at all!
Realizing that there was no right or wrong way to create an outline was really helpful. As I built my scenes, I realized something else: working out the major kinks and plot turns ahead of time is going to make writing this story go a lot faster. DUH!
I think I expected outlining to take away the creativity of writing my story, thought I’m not sure why. I’m still building this world and these people from the ground up. I’m just figuring out some of the structure of their story ahead of time, learning what makes them tick, looking for their turning points, their motivation.
Writing the outline has been fun but exhausting. I ended up with eight pages that I turned in this morning. Now I’ll be jumping as every email comes in to see what comments my classmates and instructor have for me. Then I’ll need to decide if I’m writing in first person, third person, present tense, past tense…but that’s a decision for another day.
So tell me, are you a plotter or a pantser? And if you plot, what methods work for you?