For my first book I wrote a one page summary of the plot before beginning and tried to map out chapters in a notebook…but it was to no avail. - I totally pantsed the project in the end, letting the story go wherever it wanted. It was a lot of fun but after all was said and done, I ended up with a 130k project that began with three chapters of back story, contained stiff dialogue, useless details, description and adverbs galore.
Now- this would be a dream come true for those who love to edit and revise.
Unfortunately, I am not one of ‘those’. - As president and co founder of the Revision Haters Club, my first project was a living nightmare.
Two years later, it still needs work.
With my second project however, I found myself writing a scene by scene outline without even realizing it. Before I started writing, certain scenes would just come to me while I was driving or doing dishes. Sometimes it would be a funny scene based on a small bit of dialogue. Sometimes it was an emotional scene to develop the plot or characters etc… In any case, I wrote all the scenes down, everything I wanted to see happen in the book between the characters and then eventually sewed them into the plot, making sure each scene served a purpose.
Once those were down, I had to do some actual brainstorming and find ways to fill the holes where there was nothing to move the plot along.
When I finally sat down to start writing, the outline helped so much because I always knew where I was going. The actual process of writing a first draft went by a lot faster (two or three months rather than the eight months I spent on my first book)
The scenes themselves would often change or go in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. The characters wouldn’t react the way I’d imagined in my daydreams and I never tried to force it in this case. Often times I’d have to delete, rearrange, or flat out change the scenes in my original outline but I didn’t mind. Despite trying to map things out, I still love the feeling of letting the writing go where it wants. There’s nothing like it.
Now that I’m brainstorming a fourth project, the outline has become an essential part of my writing method. I let the scenes come, let the characters form and become clearer in my mind while silently building anticipation for the day I’m ready to sit down and let the fun begin.
What is your writing style? Are you a plotter or a pantser? If you’re a plotter, was it something you’ve always been or did it kind of creep up on you like me? If you’re a pantser, how do you handle the revision process? Has anyone done both and what differences/ difficulties did you find with each?