Today I’m going to wrap up this blog series with my own “outlining personality.”
If you’ve missed the earlier posts, you can read them here:
Now I’m certainly no planner, but I’m not a complete pantser. I’m what is known as a plantser—one who grows plants. 🌵🌱🌷
Actually, that’s not the technical definition of a plantser. (Though I have an affinity for growing and killing 🥀plants.) I’m not even sure there is an official definition.
So I shall give you one.
A plantser is someone who both outlines and writes by the seat of their pants.
Plantsers seem like a paradox, don’t they?
But it’s entirely possible to do both. I’m living proof!
How I Plan
I’ve tried to do formal outlines. I’ve tried The One Year Adventure Novel.
Something about detailed outlines drives me crazy. It takes the fun out of writing for me.
I’m more of a “let me scribble a bunch of important stuff on a legal pad, then forget about it” kind of outliner. At the very most, I might even write out a few bullet points.
My mom had me try to outline Checkmate, which was good in some ways (it showed me that I do have a bit of a planner in me and that I had way too many traps 😅), but after I finished it, I totally disregarded it.
The majority of outlining that I do I call “head-writing.” That basically means I write the scene in my head before I write it out on paper.
Partially because I get all my good ideas while washing dishes or taking a shower and water + paper = not good. Partially because I think it’s really fun.
It’s like watching a movie in your head on repeat until you know it by heart. I’ll go over the idea until I have little details worked out (such as how someone is standing, the location of the knife, the layout of the building, etc.). That way, when I actually have a good sized chunk of time to write, I can get a lot of words out. Mostly because I’m really excited about the scene that’s been living in my head, but also because I have somewhere to start instead of staring at that evil blinking cursor.
How I Pants
I love pantsing!
When a little plot bunny comes sneaking around, I’m more than happy to follow it down winding trails. Most of the time, it ends up better than I had planned. Other times, I have to do more re-writing because it changed a bunch of stuff.
For example, one of my main characters (My personal favorite. Shh, don’t tell him.) was simply supposed to be a “spear-carrier”—in other words, an extra. Just there to fight the bad guys and probably die like side characters always do. Then one day (while doing dishes), it occurred to me, “What if I give this guy a POV? And what if he has this backstory?” The rest is history. He promptly took over the last half of Draft 1 and 2.
One thing I’ve learned with my little bit of writing experience is “trust your gut.” If you think it’s awkward it probably is. So if you think you should follow a plot bunny, you should.
It’s important for every writer to understand their writing process. No one way is better than another. There are also differing degrees of each process—some outline every scene, others only do bullet points.
Your process might not fit the patterns we’ve talked about over the last three weeks.
What’s your writing process? Are you a planner? A pantser? Do you have houseplants?