There seem to be two main types of fiction writers in the world: plotters and pantsers. Plotters often write their books in chronological order, while pantsers tend to write “by the seat of their pants”. Plotters usually follow plot outlines and copious amounts of notes when they write. Pantsers usually write with little or no outline at all. Instead they write scenes as they imagine them and piece them together in a proper order later.
After writing four books and several short stories of varying lengths, I’ve discovered that I’m what I’d call a pants-on-head plotter. I tend to start a story knowing two things: a beginning scene and a general idea of the story’s end. It’s only after I write the first couple of scenes, that I actually do any sort of an outline to find out more of the story’s plot.
My starting outline is a simple paragraph that summarizes the whole story. I then expand this paragraph into one-sentence summaries of each chapter as I figure out more details. I develop my outlines as I write the book rather than before I begin. I keep the book outlines short because more detailed outlines give me very little room to play and experiment. I don’t like losing spontaneity in my story discovery process, so I actually threw out my current novella’s outline because it was stifling my creativity.
As unwieldy and “pantsy” as my outlines often are, I’m usually fairly organized when I actually write fiction. When writing a story’s first draft, I create my main scenes in (mostly) chronological order. Then I go back to expand scenes and add transition scenes in the second draft, so that the story makes sense from beginning to end. I research as I write and keep notes on the characters and their world so that I can stay consistent. The third draft is my time to get really picky with details, language use, and themes.
Weirdly enough, I write my first and second drafts in two stages. I typically write half of a book, rewrite the first half, and then begin writing the story’s second half. Once I’ve written the major scenes in the second half, I’ll go back to the story’s halfway point and rewrite from there. It isn’t until I hit the third draft that I read the story fully from start to finish.
So now that I’ve laid out my crazy creative processes for all to see, I have to wonder if anyone else has this bizarre of a writing approach.
Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!