Some authors are meticulous planners.They will develop a rough story idea into a plan that consists of all major events, twists and turning points and they will know exactly how their story ends and how they are going to reach that end. Nothing is left to chance. Every bump and pothole in the road is carefully constructed. Scenes are written out prior to writing, sometimes in as much detail as the actual novel itself. The characters and the setting are meticulously explored. No nasty surprises. Not one ounce of flab. This is a story which is super-fit for purpose.
Other authors are happy to describe themselves as ‘pantsers’. These are the guys who literally write from the seat of their pants with little or no planning at all prior to writing. These authors will have a general idea of the story they want to write and then simply sit down and write it. The story just goes with the flow until it reaches its natural conclusion.
I would describe myself as a mixture of the two types. I like to have a loose structure. I need to know that the antagonist is a worthy opponent of the protagonist. I will have a rough idea of the beginning, middle and end insomuch that the beginning will turn the normal life of the main character upside down and throw him into turmoil. The middle will see that character facing certain death, either literally or metaphorically, and the end will see him overcome all obstacles and defeat his adversary. In addition, the story will transform my main character and make him grow as a person, so I need to know as much as I can about his pre-story psychology to enable me to work out how he is going to change as a result of the story (his character arc). But mostly I like to discover what happens as the story unfolds. I’m always looking for that bit of magic to come from nowhere and surprise me as much as it will surprise a reader. That knockout moment that I didn’t see coming.
That’s pretty much it. I guess you might call me a ‘planster’.
Authors: How much plotting and planning do you do? Are you a ‘planner’ or a ‘pantser’ or a bit of both?