I recently came across an article by Glen C. Strathy which suggests using index cards to improve your book planning. At first, I was a bit apprehensive, but I’m not sure if that was the planning part or the writing out of index cards. If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’m generally a “panster.” I like to write without knowing what’s going to happen chapter to chapter and scene to scene of my novels. I have a general knowledge and a few key scenes that I know I want to write, but that’s it. Usually.
My current WIP is different. It needs special care and attention. I can’t pants my way through this one, mostly. So, I decided that I was going to try the whole “plotter” thing. I sat down and plotted out my first three chapters which also are written. (That in itself feels like an accomplishment to me!) I now have chapters 4 and 5
almost figured out.
I don’t know if I like outlining really. It’s still too early in the game to tell. Actually, what I’ve decided is that I’m more of a plotting-pantser. I know. How can one be both? Well, a lot of people seem to do both. Some novels make you into a pantser. Some make you into a plotter. And then, I like to plot out some of one novel and pants out the rest.
Okay, so let’s go back to the index cards. I had plans of plotting out my entire novel and making an outline when I came across this article. I thought, “Hey. That’s not too bad of an idea.” So, I tried it. It didn’t hurt me, and really, it did kind of help. I feel like I’m back in school working on a research paper though. Anyway, what I would do was plan out one chapter and then write it. Of course, there were many changes that derived from the original outline, but it worked out. And it happened the same way with the other two chapters. So, in fact, I was planning and pantsing at the same time. (It sounds more complicated than it really is.)
So, I’m not saying one way is better than the other. And there’s a huge debate in the writing community about planning and pantsing and which one is better. My opinion has always been and always will be that you should write however works best for you. And again, it’s whatever the novel you’re working on needs too. Novels are like kids. They each have a different personality and need a certain type of attention. What works for one novel may not work for the next.
It doesn’t really matter if you’re a plotter or pantser. What matters in the end is that the novel/story gets written the best it can.
Find what works best for you. And if you’re a plotter, panster or plotting-panster take it as it is and write the way you’re most comfortable with.
How do you write? Which are you? What are your arguments for each side?