What’s between Plotting & Pantsing?

I’ve spent the better part of my summer at the drawing board, outlining my new book before I write anything more of it.  For those of you who’ve been around here a while, you might have seen my laments after writing my first novel without a plan and the subsequent rewrites and new drafts to fix all the plot issues and newbie writer faux pas. To be sure, mistakes were made.


It turns out that I can’t just start outlining from the get go. I don’t have it in me. Seems I need to write a few chapters and get a feel for the story. With this new seekrit book, I wrote four chapters before deciding I needed to stop and get the outline worked up through to the end of the book.

What do you call a hybrid panster and plotter? A planster? A plotser? A pantsplotter?  Doesn’t matter really because the important thing is that I now have a plan. And it looks like this:


The Outline of New Seekrit Book

I thought it was interesting when I finally got it figured out and looked back on my process. It wasn’t like I sat down with my pile of multi-colored post-it notes and my favorite black-ink pen and this outline popped out. No, way.

Outlines need drafts, too.

It took me two months of dwelling and pondering and sketching and doodling and writing step sheets and annoying my friends with what-ifs over lunch, at the pool, via text… (thanks for your patience, guys!) Basically the whole of summer break was spent ruminating over the story before I could get it figured out to my satisfaction.

There are so many ways to write a book. And none of them are “the right way”. There are also many paths to finding your story, with the same caveat that there is no “right way”. I’ve learned that it’s important to try different things until eventually something clicks for you. I’m really glad I did!

How do you get to the bottom of your story?

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