A few posts ago, I spoke about how writing a romance novel starts with an idea. Well, being a romance novelist starts with knowing whether you’re a plotter or a pantser. (That’s a lie, but I’m trying to link my last Writing 101 post and this one, so bear with me.) In short, knowing whether you’re a planner or a plotter is going to save you a lot of time. It’ll either help you by keeping you from trying to be something you’re not, or it’ll help you accept who you are.
So – are you a plotter, or pantser? Or do you have no idea what I’m talking about?
A plotter is a writer who has to plot their book before they can write. Basically, they have to know what they’re writing before they start writing it. This comes in various forms: plotting out an entire book; plotting a chapter; plotting character development, etc. Pantsers, on the other hand, can’t plot their books to save their lives (hello, fellow pantsers!). This term is derived from the idea of flying by the seat of your pants. As a pantser at heart, I can tell you that’s very much true. Pantsers sit down to write with only a vague idea of what they want their story to look like. (If you’re still struggling to understand what I mean, read this post.)
There are pros and cons to each of these writing styles. The purpose of this post isn’t to outline these.
The purpose of this post is to a) tell you there’s a difference, and b) encourage you to figure out where you fit. You might not know that right away. When I started out, I had to jump into my writing before I scared myself off. Plotting wasn’t even an option for me because I didn’t know where to start. But working with a publisher has changed that. While I still sit down to write without quite knowing what I’ll be writing, I have a lot of my conflict already worked out. You, however, might first have to plot, only to discover that you never stick to your plans. Once you realise that, don’t fight it. In fact, don’t fight your writing style at all, whatever it is.
It works for you. And really, that’s the most important thing.
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