Plotting vs pantsing: the eternal question.

I started on my fantasy trilogy as a complete pantser. I had no plan whatsoever. After an inspiring road trip in Ireland, I came back with a head full of something I could not quite articulate and just started writing. What this resulted in was a first draft that was plain scary. In fact, it took me a year to revise the first book in the trilogy because I had to rewrite half of it and fix extensively the other half. Thankfully, I was excited enough about my initial idea to have enough motivation to carry through this task.

The plot and structure of the book crystallized out over time, and, in the end, things ended up tidy enough. But, my, was it tough to get the project to that level. I know that there are vehement advocates of either pantsing or plotting, but I reached the conclusion that the truth, at least for me, lies midway.

Normally, what I do after the initial idea strikes, is write long, disorganized bullet point lists of plot points, characters, etc. It is a random but very inspired process. Then when I feel like the idea has a bit of shape, I would start writing. I often forget to look at my lists, let alone organize them. The result: scary first draft.

I think it is important to indulge into this first stage where the initial idea sparks and soak up as much as possible from this free energy (as I wrote in my previous post); but now I see that having a vague idea of what the story will be about is not enough to produce something coherent, which doesn’t need scary amounts of revision. I see that I need to first make better sense of the glowing debris from the primal idea blast.

It will need to be a balanced process. I’m a punster. That I can’t change. If I plot out a story too rigidly, I lose interest. But starting with no direction at all seems to also not be working for me.

Author: Adriana Kantcheva

I'm a Bulgarian writer of (often) speculative fiction, who lives in Germany.

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