My Apologies to the Plotters: It Really Does Work

Pantsing vs. Plotting. It’s the never-ending boxers vs. briefs debate between writers. You choose a side and defend it passionately. Over the years I’ve been very outspoken about being a pantser. Why sit around plotting what to write? Just write! It’s more organic that way. More meant-to-be.

Until I took on my latest project, anyway. A three-book romantic fantasy series. Not that I jumped right into it without a real idea of where it was going to go or anything…

Well, not really… Okay, yeah, I kinda did do that. But it worked! At least for the first book. I tore through it NaNo-style in a month and with another month or two of major rewriting and editing had it ready to send off to a publisher.

That’s the way writing is supposed to be. Total joy.

Followed by total frustration. I opened up the new file and started to write, seeking to find that joy in the second book that I’d experienced with the first. It didn’t show up. So I closed the computer and went off to do something else. I organized my office. I cleaned out the kids’ toys. I baked cookies and made three-dimensional snowflakes, stopping to write down ideas from time to time. And I realized I needed a plan.

I had a basic idea of what I wanted the three books to be, but I hadn’t actually outlined what I wanted from each one. So I sat down and wrote out the plot points from the first book (pretty easy since it was already written), then I started on the second and before I knew it I’d begun plotting and in the process immersed myself in a whole mythology I’d created for my characters without even realizing it.

Only then did I go back to pantsing it. Because I have plotted an outline, I can pick and choose which scenes to write and know where they’ll fit in. So I can write the scene I’m inspired to write and know it won’t end up in the garbage. Cue joyful, triumphant music.

Plotting. Who knew, right?

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2 responses to “My Apologies to the Plotters: It Really Does Work

  1. Melissa Snark

    When I wrote fanfiction, I pantsed it. Plotting didn’t become important until I started working on my own fiction and realized how many unfinished projects I had along with the time wasted on revising half the book.

    Fun read. 🙂

    • Thanks for the read, Melissa! Maybe I’m taking this series more seriously than former projects, the same way you took your own fiction more seriously than you took the fan fiction. Or maybe it’s just that I was in danger of getting bogged down by a much bigger project than I’d ever taken on before!