When I wrote my first manuscript, I’d never even heard the terms panster or plotter. (What is a panster and plotter?) Now that I look back at it, I was definitely a panster. I really didn’t know where I was going until I got there. All I knew is that I had characters in my mind that I liked, a setting that was sentimental to me, and a basic conflict that would carry my novel. But as for chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene, I had no idea what would happen.
It wasn’t until I started writing my second novel that I realized I was destined to be a plotter. And here’s why.
I want to be a panster, I really do. I’m an impatient person and I find no greater joy than being in the middle of a story. So I would start with an award winning idea. You know, something short and sweet that sparked from a random thought. I pull characters names out of thin air, find a suitable description on Pinterest, and bring up a tab with a thesaurus to prepare for writers block. That’s about the best I would do for organization.
And then, when I start typing out my opening line, I get a killer idea for a later chapter or a plot twist or a piece of symbolism that makes me want to jump out of my seat and do a touchdown celebration. I’d drop my WIP to the toolbar and open up Microsoft OneNote–which is where I decided to keep my notes, ideas, characters, etc–and I would jot down my idea. Because, lets face it, my memory just refuses to retain ideas any longer than five minutes. Hoping that I’ll just magically remember a fabulous idea after three months of writing is just too much to ask.
So I usually jot down this “quick thought” and of course, while I’m writing that thought, another one springs into view. And another one. And another one until I’ve usually got a digital notebook full of ideas and thoughts. I’ve found after a few attempted novels that it’s best if I organize these ideas. Which equals out to what?
Which has inevitably led me to using yWriter5 to keep all of my brainstorming in a fashion that will make it easy for me to remember what I was hoping to accomplish in a certain scene three months ago when I started out.
Therefore, I am a plotter.
Are you a panster or a plotter?