Planner or Pantser?

Hello Dear Reader!

No book review this week because I haven’t yet finished my current read, Running with Shadows by Kaitlyn Keller. It’s a really good read by the way, so even if I haven’t finished it, I do recommend you go check it out. It does contain some more mature themes—though not explicitly—so just keep that in mind if you’re like me and haven’t really encountered books that talk about or mention those kinds of topics.

Anyway, on to the topic of this blog post, which is whether or not I’m a planner or a pantser.

I’ve learned there are two extremes when it comes to planning a book: the planner and the pantser. The planner is what the term implies. This person takes the time to plot out their story, characters, setting, etc. before they start writing their book. The pantser is the complete opposite, doing minimal to know planning whatsoever and letting the story do its own thing as they write. Over the years, I realized I’m not just one or the other. I’m a good mix of both.

When I wrote the Dark Irregular Trilogy, I did almost no planning whatsoever for pretty much all three of the books. The only thing I did take the time to draft out were several of the characters and the basics of the world, but in terms of plot? Nothing. I didn’t know where the story was going to go and what twists and turns it would have. Whatever happened would come as a surprise to me, and it really was a surprise because I intended the trilogy to have more action than it ended up having. Do I dislike the story because of that? I absolutely love it, especially since they’re the first books I’ve ever written; however, it does go to show that what you want in a story isn’t what you’ll necessarily get if you don’t plan.

Now, when I started the Card Holders series—which I’m working on editing right now—I was definitely still a pantser. Like the Dark Irregular Trilogy, I had no notes whatsoever on what how the story would go. I only drafted a few of the characters and the story’s world, and that was pretty much it. I had an idea of what I wanted in terms of the plot, but I never did any in-depth planning. That all started to change when I realized the story I originally wanted to write would end up being longer than three books.

In fact, it ended up being five.

By the time I finished the second book of Card Holders, I realized I really had no idea where I wanted this story to go. I had to change up the way I’d been doing things and actually had to start planning out my plots if I wanted to write a cohesive book that made sense. And so, that’s what I started to do. I took one of my empty journals, labeled one of the pages after the third book of the series, and started writing main plot points I wanted to happen. Even if they ended up not happening, at the very least, I had something that would give me some sort of direction and help me figure out if those plot points were really what I wanted and if they would actually make for a good story.

After I started this for the third book of Card Holders, I did it for the rest of the books in the series. Was my plot planning in-depth? No, but having a set structure that could later be changed was a really great thing to have, especially with a story that had a lot of nuances and twists that I had to keep track of in order to make things consistent.

When I finished the Card Holders series, I immediately set to work on writing my first-ever young adult romance novel that is very much a slow burn. It’s so slow I’m 80,000 words in, and the characters aren’t even together yet. Like my previous books, I drafted the main characters and the setting of the story. Like the trilogy and my other series, I didn’t make any bullet points for the plot of this new book. That changed about ten chapters in, where things started a get a little heated in terms of the plot moving forward. I realized I needed to be careful in how the relationship between the two eventual lovebirds played out, and having a basic outline was the best way to keep me on track and make sure things didn’t feel too rushed or too painstakingly slow.

So, long story short, I’m neither planner nor pantser, but a hybrid of both, and how much I plan really does depend on the kind of story I want to write and whether or not it gets out of control if I don’t plan out a plot of any kind. Enough about me. What about you? Are you a planner, a pantser, or a hybrid like I am? I’d love to know!

That’ll be it for this blog post, dear reader. I hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!

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