Most writers know whether they are a plotter who outlines their stories or a pantster (pantser?) who writes "by the seat of their pants" with no plan whatsoever.
But what if you fit into both categories? I always write my first draft like a pantster, following the characters around helter skelter and on tangents. Then when it is time to edit or rewrite I outline the story based on the scenes that are important to the core. That first draft helps me to know what the story is about though it might take me a while to get there.
A story I wrote for NaNoWriMo is a sort of modern Peter Pan story. That first draft focused on getting to know the characters really well. Sadly, it didn't turn out how I envisioned in my mind. So I wrote a completely new second draft and again "plans" began to fade. Third times the charm. I have the characters down and have them exactly where I want them. It just took a year and a half to figure out where that was! And while those early drafts will never be read by anyone else I had fun writing them.
About now the plotters are going, "But look at all that wasted time and thousands of wasted words!"
I disagree. Without that first draft, I wouldn't know the characters so well. I can never make it through even the simplest character templates and the simple ones never seem to really help me anyway. The second draft allowed me to figure out the setting. They are kind of like my really in-depth outlines.
Now the third draft is turning out exactly how I saw it in the first place. As writers, you know it can be difficult to get what is in your mind onto the page. I find when I outline exactly how I want the plot to go before I start writing three things happen.
1) My characters feel stunted like they didn't have room to grow.
2) Everything else, not just the characters, feels forced.
3) I get bored because I know what will happen and stop writing.
But when I let the characters have free reign with little to no intervention on my behalf magic happens. Everything and everybody flourishes. When I go back to read it before editing I can see what is working and can then outline those scenes and use them to help me write the second draft.
When it comes to writing I like to think of myself as a pantster, but once I am in the thick of editing I have to steal some tools out of the plotters toolbox. How about you? Are you a plotter or a pantster? Or are you camping in no man's land with me? The more the merrier!
K. A. Jairl
My name is Kim and I'm glad you stopped by. This is where I post my triumphs and my downfalls as I fight the good fight of being a writer mom everyday.