When I started on my writing journey a few years ago I felt ill prepared for achieving my goals so I did what probably a lot of you have done I went to the internet, I followed people on YouTube and I read blogs. I’m not sure what I was looking for, some guidance or some inspiration maybe. What I found then was a lot of chat around planning.
I’m not against planning or goal setting but a lot of what I was reading then was about how to plan a novel, the intricate detail of chapter plans and character arcs the whole thing made me want to run away. I knew then just like I know now that, that wasn’t for me. If I planned my stories out that much I’d be bored of it before I even started constructing the book.
I am at heart a pantser, (as an aside I also like that whenever I type pantser autocorrect tries to change it to panther and it warms my heart to know one day I’ll not notice and write that I’m a panther). I like to follow the story through the eyes of my characters and allow for organic change to take place. That’s probably why it takes me a while to get going with a new project because I’m not fully comfortable in the new MCs head yet.
The downside of this style is that you tend to create plot holes for yourself and as I write crime it’s especially important not to leave your reader irritated that you’ve left a loose end somewhere that feels unintentional or feeling underwhelmed by your conclusion.
Lately I’ve developed a very loose planning method which I’d describe as a thought worm and it goes like this:
Why did this happen? - all the possible answers - select the preferred answer - how does MC find out? -
and so on until I’ve worked out the basic plot points. The thing I like about this is because I brainstorm all the possible answers to each question and create a time line of events, I can always make alterations and go back to the same basic questions.
I’ve found this method helps me to move my WIP on at a better place and lessened the amount of time I spend staring at the page thinking ‘I wonder what will happen next’.
Does this mean I’ve become a Planner - hell no, no disrespect, hats off to you if you can write a chapter plan and stick to it throughout. But I would say that I’ve incorporated a level of planner and whilst still heavily err towards being a pantser occasionally I’m a plantser.
I’m thoroughly of the belief that there is no right way, although I’ve heard people be disparaging of their opposing method. We all have to find our own path and if it works for you then you do you.
I’d love to hear about whether you’re a planner, plantser or a pantser, share your thoughts in the comments.