As I write my first novel I ask myself: Am I a plotter or a pantser?
If I am a plotter, I methodically plot each aspect of my story before I start drafting. I outline my work using the beats described in Blake Synder’s Save the Cat books. I write each scene to match a story structure checkpoint. The problem with plotting is when I stick too closely to my plan, I lose spontaneity. I don’t see what wants to be expressed in that moment. Sometimes drafting within my beats, I feel constricted and frustrated by its guidelines. I long to put these plot points aside and write freely and boldly.
If I am a pantser, I ditch the plan and the beats and draft by the seat of my pants. This method allows for flashes of inspiration. I let the story tell me where it wants to go. However, sometimes, if I write this way, I lose coherency. I lose the vision of my story that should unfold as a result of a logical series of events. When I write as a pantser, I have no plan of what I am going to write that day. This can be both terrifying and exhilarating.
What I’ve discovered: Plot maps are useful. I need a general outline to keep my story on track. But I also need to give myself permission to let my imagination and creativity be my guide.
I am both a plotter and a pantser! Let the novel-writing adventures continue!
Evelyn has a B.A. in English from SUNY Binghamton. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York where she is writing her first novel with the Novel Incubator.