Plotting Your Story vs. Writing With The Flow

If you’re involved with any type of writing community, you’ve probably heard about plotters vs. pantsters. Many people find outlining and story boards to be helpful to their writing process. Other people prefer to write with the flow. Some will combine a mixture of the two depending on the story. In truth, there’s no right or wrong way to write a book. You should do what works for you, because the main goal is to finish the story!

I’m one of the people who writes the story without an outline. I see why it’s valuable and I’m sure it would be fun to have story boards and outlines and character sketches, but for me those only distract from the writing process. Before I write, I have the beginning, end, and climax already in mind so all I need to do is fill the parts in between those three main events.

Have I ever written with an outline? Yes. For my very first novel, I actually outlined the whole story. I was new to novel writing and it helped me get the ideas down prior to writing the book. Once I finished that book, it’s like something unlocked my inspiration and this led me to write with the flow, which was far more productive. I enjoy the process a lot more as it feels less constrained and more authentic. Sometimes at the last minute, a character will do something I didn’t originally expect. I’m enjoying the story as much as a reader would, because I don’t always know everything that’s going to happen aside from the main points. I absolutely love writing this way!

While I understand why some writers prefer to outline and pre-plan their story, pantsing works best for my creative flow. Some of the most well-known and successful authors are pantsters! Stephen King is one and let’s just say a lot of people seem to like his writing.

So, writers, are you a plotter or a pantster? Let me know in the comments below.

5 comments

  1. I’m a binge writer. When my emotions get the best of me, which is often, I just go at it. Last week, I woke up at like 2 in the morning and started writing, for no discernible reason, and with no plan. It worked out all right. Longer pieces I outline in very general terms, like making a sandbox with a lot of sand in it. Boundaries but no constraints.

  2. I think pantsing works best for creativity and I like it, but I often run out of steam before the end so outlining is great for the planning bit and I think I sit somewhere in between but more on the pantsing side 🙂

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