plotter - A novelist who outlines the story before beginning to write.
Hi, my name's Kyle and I'm a recovering pantser.
For as long as I've desired a career as a writer (say about age 11 when I discovered Stephen King) I have always sat down and wrote. No planning involved. Just scribbled until I fashioned a shell of a story that I then rewrote until all of the pieces came together into a cohesive form. (Yes, the process was exactly as exhausting as it sounds.)
Last year, I decided change. After a study of how to plot (Save the Cat and How to Write a Damn Good Mystery being the two best books I found) I devised my own system.
Step 1: Build the world
Step 2: Develop your characters (the world influences who lives the world)
- Determine character motivations
- Determine character arcs
Step 3: Plot using the 15-beat method (see Save the Cat)
Step 4: Once you have everything worked out, write the actual story
I discovered two things about myself:
1. I love world building and delving into the characters' psyche.
2. Once I had finished steps 1-4, I was TOO BORED WITH THE STORY to actually write the darned thing.
I've tried letting the outline ferment for a month or so before returning to it. That helped to freshen it a bit, but not enough to rekindle my interest in the story. When it's all said and done, I like outlining and pantsing for the same reason: the thrill of discovery as my brain reveals plot twists in the same manner they are exposed when I read a book - one page at a time. Once an outline is complete, I dislike it for the same reason I never read the same book twice: I already know what's going to happen, so I am no longer emotionally involved.
I see the logic of being a plotter. It does save time and effort, but a third revelation about myself I noticed is the few short stories I've plotted first, and then wrote were … well, er … kind of lifeless. They lacked a spark of originality.
Does this mean I'll return to my pantsing ways?
For now, I plan to vaguely sketch my ideas, but do the world building and discover the characters as I go along. Will that mean rewriting? Yes, but rewriting has never bothered me. I suppose that's because I discover something new each time I rewrite - hence, the story is still 'fresh'.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? The first person who leaves a detailed comment below before 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2013 wins a free copy of Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. (Contest limited to residents of the United States of America due to mailing costs - sorry.)