Most of us readily consider ourselves either a discovery writer or a plotter. We fly by the seat of our pants, proudly sporting the "I'm a Pantser" badge, or we like to plot our novels and carry our chart / graph / notebook / notecards anywhere we take our laptop. We stand on our side of the road, wave to our fellow writer friends on the other side, and marvel about how in the world they can write that way.
But in reality, most (if not all) of us are not completely on one side of that road or the other.
If we're pantsers, chances are, we don't start out knowing NOTHING AT ALL. We probably know our characters pretty well. We have a few ideas about the setting, maybe even something about the main conflict. We just don't know what our characters are going to do once we plop them in that setting or in the middle of that conflict.
By the same token, we probably don't plan EVERY LITTLE THING that's going to happen if we are a plotter. We don't have every chapter mapped out, with every interaction with every character recorded, each piece of each character arc color-coded, every plot point spelled out.
We're probably somewhere in-between the two.
For me, I'm right about here:
I consider myself a plotter. I sometimes plot for months before I ever start to write. I get the setting down pat. Figure out the character arcs. The plot arcs. The theme. I know pretty much everything about the first 25% and the last 25% of the book.
But that middle? That's the vague part for me. The part that looks like I'm trying to see it without my contacts in. As much as I love plotting, I know it's a very bad idea for me to plot the middle. That's when the magic happens as I'm writing it. Things work themselves out in ways I hadn't anticipated, and work out more brilliantly than I could've ever plotted. If I let my planning nature prevail in the fight to plot the middle, that magic would never happen.
And that's just it. Sometimes you have to quell that plotter / pantser in you on a certain part of your manuscript to let the magic really happen. If you're a pantser, there might be a certain element (character, setting, plot) or part (beginning, middle, end) you have to plan ahead of time to help the magic happen in the direction the story's supposed to be headed, instead of letting that magic fizzle as the story wanders through that first draft. If you're a plotter, maybe there's a certain element or part you have to not plan to let the magic free.
Which do you consider yourself to be-- a plotter or a pantser / discover writer? Is there a part you tend to not plot / pants in order to let the magic happen? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!
THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH will release in Fall 2013 from Random House.
You can find her at her blog, Will Write for Cookies, or on Twitter at @PeggyEddleman.