Most of you know by now what side of the plotting field you play from… I’m a pantser. You may be a plotter. If you don’t know, a pantser is a writer that just sits down and writes a story with little to no planning. A plotter is a writer that plans everything out before they sit down to write.
I’m a pantser, but that doesn’t mean I completely forgo plotting. I’m curious to see how other people plot their stories, especially other pantsers.
My plotting process goes as such:
1. Idea. I get an idea for a story that really moves me, something I can’t help but write. I start working it through my head without writing anything down at first.
2. Character Sketches. I figure out my main character, the main villain, and maybe one important secondary character. Most of the time this is done by character interviews, but Jo Hart has an excellent post on character sketching at her blog here.
3. Candy-bar scenes. This is a term I take from one of Holly Lisle’s workshops, Create Your Professional Plot Outline, which is free, and if you have yet to find her site, read every single article she has ever written right now. Most of my plotting techniques come from this, but I like to vary it up to what works for me. Candy-bar scenes are scenes that you have to write. They may be epic space battles, a heated break-up, or a joy ride in the Aston Martin DB5 from the Bond films. These are the scenes that get you excited about writing the story in the first place. I usually have these in my head as soon as an idea hits me.
4. Start writing. If I plan any further than this, then I don’t want to write the story anymore. I figure out everything else as I go.
5. Figure out the ending. I didn’t know where I wanted my NaNoWriMo story to end until about 10,000 words in. With my first novel, I had an idea for the ending before I started writing, and about 10,000 words in, I had a completely different ending in mind. I’ve found that this works best for me, because by this time, I understand the characters’ motives and weaknesses completely and what constitutes a satisfying ending for their story.
6. Finish writing. Self-explanatory.
If you are a plotter, how in-depth are your outlines and prewriting exercises? If you are a pantser, what plotting tools do you employ, or do you completely ignore all plotting? Please leave comments below. I really am interested in how everyone else plots a story!