Learning to Become a Plotter

I’ve always been firmly in the pantsing camp. That is, “writing by the seat of your pants,” or making all (or most) of it up as you go along. If my writing is not spontaneous, then I get bored. I feel like I’m following a formula, and it sucks the joy out of doing it.

But I’m learning the very hard way that if I don’t have some kind of formula, I have no idea where to go. I lack consistency. My first drafts turn out to be disasters if they ever get finished at all.

I wrote about 23,000 words on a novel WIP I’d been thinking about for several months. Then, I stalled. It’s not just because I was taking a summer class (a Creative Writing class, no less) that required a lot of my attention. I lost track of where I was going, like walking into a room and forgetting why I came in. I honestly had no clue what I was writing anymore. I’d left behind a plot resembling Swiss cheese. I’d gotten to know my characters and their behavior, but the chaos that surrounded them was just too much to reconcile, and I predicted it would only get worse the more I wrote without direction.

So I’m starting over now, with…an outline. Yes, I’m actually going to do this. Outlines, character notes, the works. Stuff I’m going to stick to, or maybe tweak a little, but probably not throw out altogether.

Any outline I made in the past was a joke. It generally had three points: a beginning, middle, and end, and it rarely resembled the final product. Now I’m going to try—try—to make one that’s more in depth. Lucky for me, it just so happens that my old plotting material from before I tried this messy draft got lost to the depths of my Macbook, so I get to start out pretty much from scratch.

Wish me luck.


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