Pick a P-Word That Works for You
Some people in the industry are into buzz words. Really into buzz words. They can sound like a cliché festival run amok sometimes.
As for me, I hate buzz words, corporate-speak, and pretty much anything politically correct. I’m the CEO and board chair of a reasonable size corporation, and just ask the other board members or division VPs. Many are MBAs and similar business types. They hate me sometimes. Not as much as the corporate lawyers, but they still hate me.
Anyway, I need to use a couple of buzz words here simply because they are in common usage and fairly widely understood…
Plotter: An author who plans the plot of their stories in some detail, usually using an outline of some form.
Pantster: An author who just starts writing and lets the plot develop as they go along…that is, they write by the seat of their pants.
I’m sort of between the two, perhaps closer to the pantster end of things. For me, that works well about 95% of the time.
I know highly successful writers at the extreme ends of this curve. A dear friend of mine in the hard SF arena won’t write out a shopping list without a 10 page outline. Another colleague can’t even define the word outline.
In other words, pantsters and plotters are equally able to write good stories that sell very well. Neither is a superior approach.
The secret is to find the place on the continuum that works for you.
Try both. See which you are more comfortable with.
Some writers (like me) find a detailed outline too restraining. Now, I enjoy being restrained as much as the next girl, but not when I’m writing…but I digress.
Others find they wander from the point without a clear plan as an outline.
Odds are, about 99% of writers will end up between the two extremes, and that’s OK.
Again, find what works for you, and run with it!
I’m a persistent plantster. I get an idea for a story look for character names, then start writing. I have an idea oh how I want it to end. I’ve gotten better at openings. I sometimes get hung up in the middle.