Kimberly (Kim) Megahee
Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser ”?
If you’re new to writing, you may not have heard these two terms. In short, a “plotter” is a writer who creates and works from an outline. A “pantser” doesn’t outline their book and writes “by the seat of their pants”, hence the name.
When I first started writing, I was blissfully unaware of the concept of outlining. I thought you just got an idea and started writing. My first two books were written that way.
I heard about outlining while studying the craft. I was elated to hear that I could do outlines for my books. Let me put this in perspective. In my IT career, I was a chronic outliner. I outlined my computer programs and even my PowerPoint presentations. This approach worked well for me in that field.
Since then, I’ve read quite a bit on outlining and have come to a few realizations. Here they are:
Almost no one is a pure “pantser” or “plotter”. Most writers are somewhere in between, closer to one or the other methods. I’m not as much a “plotter” as I thought I would be. The writing approach is highly personal. Some writers can’t bear the idea of outlining and others can’t imagine starting a book without one. Most aspiring authors don’t know which style is best for them.
If you’re new to writing and are wondering which approach to use, my advice is to start writing something, anything. Get some practice in. Write at least a little bit every day.
At the same time, study the craft of writing. I found K.M. Weiland’s book on outlining to be helpful in determining how much outlining is right for me. She includes interviews with both “pantsers” and “plotters” that are insightful.
If you’re a new writer, you might be asking yourself what goes in an outline. That’s a great question for another day. I found Susan Warren’s Story Equation book and John Truby’s Story Anatomy book to be enlightening, though, and reference both of them a lot. See the links below.
If I’ve done my job here, you probably have more questions than when I started. That’s good, I think. The first step to knowledge is discovering yet another thing you don’t know enough about.
Until next time...
Cheers and Regards,
Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
The Story Equation by Susan May Warren
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
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