There’s this age-old argument over planning and pantsing a novel. Honestly, who cares? What’s more important is that writers find a balance that suits them. I keep saying that writing is your creativity in words. Sometimes, you gotta let the words flow until a story takes shape.
It’s easy for many writers to say “Plan and outline your novel.” But they’re planners, so it’s obvious to them. I’m NOT saying this is good or bad advice for all new writers. I fully understand why the most common advice out there is to outline before you start writing. What I mean is… there’s a small group that actually work better by sitting down and just writing. Yes, the plot might look and mess, and the character goals might be all over the place, but at least they sat down and fleshed it all out. Then they can work on those issues after. It’s like a really detailed outline.
This is basically what I did with my first project. It had been a long time since I’d done any real writing, and a long time since I’d studied story structures. I was desperate to get the words down, not thinking too much about structure and fluff and a tight plot. Now, before you ask about the state of that project, I should mention it’s a pentalogy pushing 600k words, so it’s still a WIP in need of serious attention. It looks way better than the first draft, and I’m not sorry I wrote it the way I did. I learned as much about writing as I did about my story as I went along.
However, my second project was a standalone (now part of a trilogy) that got a rough synopsis before I started writing. It helped a lot, and by the end of act one, my story became more real to me, so I wrote my outline before I got too deep into the story. I changed very little in act one based on where I wanted the story to finish, and certain characters and events were much easier to visualise having written a little of the story already.
These days, I plan as much as I possible before writing. Then I let my growing world help me plan the rest. If I have to rewrite a few chapters, that’s okay. That’s exactly what first drafts are for. My latest WIP had a pretty decent start and is now close to my final draft before I send it out to agents.
While I do recommend writing a synopsis of your story before starting, I don’t think every writer needs a full outline before they get to typing. Set your creative side free, then come back and start structuring it.
Don’t forget about my “Writing Ranting with Others” Discord group for confused writers. Message me at Lovefantasy#0367