Planned versus Pants Writing

One of the biggest questions in the writing community is do you plan out each aspect of your stories or do you like “fly by the seat of your pants” writing where you make up the story as you go. Some writers are adamant about one manner of writing while others are dead set on the other.

Personally, I think you need to have some type of plan, even if the plan is just an idea or scene you want to touch on because the rest of your story will essentially be planned or written around that. Even if you begin your work without a plan, you’ll eventually develop one inherently. Otherwise, you’ll have chapters that are their own little scenes that have no connection to the rest of the story aside from similar characters or a setting.

I don’t necessarily agree with mapping out every chapter and scene line by line because at that point, you might as well just write the story and it would be awfully boring to not have any surprises as a writer. I’ve gotten to spots in my writing where I’ll think of something on the spot and it’ll add so much more to he story and even become a major plot point. Having that wiggle room allowing yourself to add unforeseen parts to your story can make all the difference and be pleasantly surprising to you as the writer but will also be for the reader.

I believe you have to have a goal, a theme, or a scene you want to touch upon. Otherwise, why even write the damn thing? Starting with the faintest idea is the minimalist approach to planning a story and the rest will fall into place as you write. Some can write novels like this and more power to them. I plan my stories out a little more, even adding a general idea or scene or action that I want in each chapter before I sit down to write the story so I at least know where I’m going. Similar to GPS, you know where you’re starting and where your destination will be, but the distance in between will be a dark road where you have only your headlights to see the winding road in front of you.

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