Friday, June 4, 2010

Planner or Pantser?

A fellow ForumGoer at one of my online watering holes talked about his method of writing. I decided to reply with the following post...

I'm one of the former types. The Outliner. The Planner. The Plotter. I'll share how I write. It may not be how other Outliners write, though. Just me.

My ideas don't come fully formed. I'll just get a snippet of something. A scene. A bit of dialogue. But at that point, I won't write anything down. It's just an idea. There's not much for my Outliner Brain to work with. Yet.

So it'll sit in the deep recesses until it finds something it can work with. Something it can mold into shape. My brain will ask questions of the idea. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Once I've answered these questions, I sketch out the broad strokes of the story using the Four Act Structure (which I cribbed from episodic television writing). This is my Story Map.

Then I'll write, keeping an eye on the Map. Along the way, new bits of story may take shape on the page. I'll add them if they look like they will serve the story. I'll toss them if they don't.

And on I go, writing until I get to the end of the Map and the end of the story.

Do I ever swerve off the Map? Sometimes. It'll happen in the middle. The characters may decide something completely different than what I had envisioned. But I try to keep the broad strokes intact.

But eventually, everyone makes it to that ending I first envisioned. They solve the case. They find the missing girl. They retrieve the item.

What about you? How do you write?

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