In the writing world, it can seem like there are two camps: Plotters and Pantsers. I’ve done both and they each have merit.
A plotter is, well, someone who plots her novel before she starts writing it. Beginning, middle and end are all known. Characters, motivations, even scenes, all known beforehand. I find it faster to write with an outline and since speed is of the essence in November, I at least start out with an outline.
Pantsers write by the seat of their pants – there’s a variety of levels of “pantsness” – some people know a character or two, some know their situation, some know nothing at all. It’s an exciting way to write – every day is a surprise, every paragraph a revelation.
It can be easy to go astray but the excitement of having your characters act seemingly of their own volition is exhilarating.
There are pros and cons to both methods and fantastic works of fiction have been written by both plotters and pantsers. It doesn’t matter what method you use, it only matters what works for you at this time. Yes, it’s true, some novels may cause youto change your plotting style.
Do what feels right to you, don’t doubt your genius and remember – everything can be fixed during revisions.
The way I tend to write is this: start with a fairly detailed outline and write my heart out until, seemingly out of the blue, what I had planned no longer fits with who my characters have become. At that point, I sit back, re=evaluate and rework my outline to see my new direction. And it’s not just the super-fast NaNoWriMo drafts that I do this for, either. If I take all the time I need to plot, I still wind up doing a mid-novel course correction.
Of course, like almost everything in life, there is no black and white. The plotter/pantser dichotomy is really a continuum. The closer to November 1st you begin to plan your novel, the more of a pantser your circumstances will force you in to.
So tell me – are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in between?