Today I'm joined by fellow romance author Lorah Jaiyn and we're talking about how we plot our stories. I'm a definite planner, whereas Lorah is a pantser. We'll each talk about what our respective terms mean and how we work with it. Hopefully, this will give those unsure of where they fall a bit of insight or ideas on how to complete their works-in-progress. :) Let's get started!
What is a planner?
It's pretty much how it sounds. Someone who is a planner tends to lay out their stories ahead of time, so they know exactly where it's going, the pace of it, and so on.
Why this works better for me than pantsing
I guess I'm what some would call a Type A personality. lol I need the structure planning provides when it comes to my writing. When life gets busy, or I have what seems like a hundred different projects going at once, having my stories mapped out helps keep me on track.
Do I ever find myself going in a different direction than I thought my story would go?
Rarely. Because I've laid out the beginning, middle, and end to my story, I know exactly where things will go. That being said, however, there are times where I can create scenes I hadn't planned for in the planning process. When this happens, I work it into the story line so that I still have the final outcome I originally planned for. It's not really changing the story, but more like adding to it.
How does this affect the length of my stories?
I used to struggle to meet word counts at times. But finally, several books later, I don't worry so much about meeting certain word goals. I write until I'm done, then if the work's a little thin on words, I'll go back and beef up sections. If it runs a little long, I read and see where I can cut parts without it affecting the story.
My process…how I go from story idea to story completion as a planner
I don't really outline, so it's a word I try not to use. Before I ever start writing, I create a spreadsheet to plot out chapters and make notes. I don't go into specific detail here, as I want to be able to let things happen within each scene or chapter. I put what happens next to the chapter number for easy reference. Plot notes tend to be very simple (for example, "news report of missing socialite. Shown with candidate leaving fundraiser. News mentions past scandals of infidelity and speculates if she is his latest girlfriend/mistress"). Emotional development tells me what the characters should be feeling during this time. The spreadsheet is something I refer to as I write, and alter if I need to add a scene or adjust for plot holes (I keep it in my Dropbox or Google docs for easy access and editing). It also helps me track my progress and keeps me motivated to get the book finished.
For those who don’t know, tell everyone what the term “pantser” means.
Pantser is defined as someone who, no matter how long is given to complete a project, it is always done last minute. For me, it doesn’t matter if I have two months, two weeks, or two days, I’m going to write the story on the last day (or close to it).
Why does this work better for you than planning?
I work well under pressure, and I tend to avoid distractions easier. Even with this knowledge, however, I can’t force myself to break the mold.
Do you ever find yourself going in a different direction than you thought your story would go?
All the time - I pay attention to details when I’m in the active process of writing, so I tend to create details I hadn’t thought of before that work better with the characters.
How does this affect the length of your stories? Do they get too long and requiring edits, or the opposite?
I tend to go over word counts and then have to cut it back. It’s easier to trim than add though.
Please share your process…how do you go from story idea to story completion as a pantser?
I work the entire story out in my head. Then I mull about it for awhile to see if my imagination finds any plot holes or come up with other ideas. When I finally sit down to type, it’s a complete story that just needs to appear on the screen. It helps me as a pantser because I never sit down to type a story that hasn’t already been created in my mind.
Thanks so much to Lorah for helping me out with this post! Be sure to show her some love and follower her on Facebook and/or Twitter!