My Split Personality: Plotter & Pantser by C. Morgan Kennedy
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In honor of the efforts put forth by The Office of Letters and Light Programs – annual sponsors of NaNoWriMo, the topic for this month for the Janes is: How do you approach your first draft?
My Split Personality: Plotter & Pantser
Among writers, at least in romance writing circles, it is very common at conferences to hear someone ask: “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” The techno-weenie, geek girl in me longs for the structure of a well thought out plot, but the artist in me wants the freedom to fly by the seat of her pants.
How do I appease my split personality? When writing my first draft, I do a little bit of both. In a nutshell, my process is to plot the ‘big rock’, turning points of my story. Then like a kid hopping stones to cross a creek, I pants my way from big rock to big rock. Knowing my ultimate destination / climax and the mile markers along the way, helps me to write tighter and keeps me from falling down rabbit holes.
I use Michael Hague’s Six Point Plot Structure to hash out my story acts and turning points. (I created my own Excel spreadsheet based on Mr. Hague’s diagram.) But note: I do NOT cling to my first draft of turning points until the bitter end. Often my characters reveal a new and more intriguing twist that has a ripple effect through the rest of the story. I also get amazing insights during plot storming sessions with my closest writing buds.
So what are you? Plotter? Panster? Or a split between the two?