WP #184 - Find the Balance Between Plotting and Pantsing

Published about 2 months ago • 1 min read

Dear Reader,

This week has been rough, but I'm happy to say I managed to work on my WIP long enough to finish one scene and start another.

Today features a throw-back post from 2018 entitled "Don't Call It an Outline." It contains my best tips for breaking through the fear of using the wrong process for writing fiction.

Back when I first played around with the idea of writing a book, I opened up a spiral and started writing a story I thought my kids would enjoy. Every spare moment—at games and doctor visits and during lunch—I would invent problems for my characters to solve and things for them to say. I was a pantser, and I didn't care about how to map out a novel.

Eventually, a plot formed. The first novel grew into two. Then three. I had an entire shelf of spirals and three-ring binders, all written in longhand. By then, I knew I could write a book because I had already written one, if that makes sense.

Along the way, I read every craft book I could find, and I learned about things like story structure, characterization, and point of view. Finally, I decided to get serious and write a book for publication. I didn’t want to get halfway through my novel and falter, so I took a few days to plot it out. I became a plotter.

Honestly, these days I call myself a puzzler because I take the middle road between plotting and pantsing.

The puzzler approach takes a fair amount of prewriting and preparation before the real work begins, but don't call it an outline.

Today's post contains loads of additional resources and tips.


“I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.” —Mary Wollstonecraft


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This week's question is: How do you map out your stories? What methods work best for you? Please share.

Reply to ​kmckee@writingpursuits.com​. I look forward to your answers.

Thanks for reading this week's tips.
Keep writing!

Kathrese McKee
Owner, Writing Pursuits LLC

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Kathrese McKee helps authors write great stories; she hosts the Writing Pursuits podcast, teaches workshops about writing craft topics, and writes speculative fiction books, short stories, and flash fiction. Kathrese has edited fiction professionally since 2014. Learn more about her books and services at WritingPursuits.com.

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