To plot or not to plot…that IS the question

Most of my writerly friends do not outline or plot out their stories.  They write with free abandon, letting the characters drive the story to a particular end. 

Others I know write and rewrite an outline or plot line.  They vary in terms of the details in the outline, but they need the outline to structure their writing.  

Me – I’ve done both.  My first two novels were written with very little plotting.  Sure I had an overall sense of the main crisis in the story – a sense of where I wanted things to go.  But I didn’t really think about the arc of the story.  For me this was not the best plan.  I wound up rewriting the book several times, needing to rework pacing and plot – things that might have been improved with a little outlining first.

My third novel, the current WiP, is completely different.   Its outlined, the setting and symbols within the story are very specifically chosen.  In short, it is a “deliberate” novel.  Written better than my others by far, I think I have found the way in which I like to write.  I still write with free abandon (gotta love Write or Die for that), but now it has a vague structure to it.

What about you guys?  How much prewriting do you put into your creative process?  Do you plot, outline, write with free abandon?  Answer the poll and leave a comment – I am so curious to know what you guys do…

6 thoughts on “To plot or not to plot…that IS the question

  1. It really depends on what I’m doing. Uninvoked is based on an old NaNoWriMo novel, so it had an outline…sort of….

    Usually I take a concept, something that intrigued me, and follow it from there.

  2. I do both. I’ll free write after initially knowing the end, beginning, and penultimate climax. Then after free writing, I go back and start plotting and developing whatever subplots and secondary storylines that suggested themselves in the raw draft.

  3. Nisa

    This post does a pretty great job of describing how the process has gone for me. My first book was definitely free of an outline and my second has a very, very loose outline, but I’ve found that while I stray from the outline often, having it has given me a better perspective, though I knew where I wanted to end up before I started writing the story. (Prequels are nice that way!)

  4. The last book I was working on (it’s on a break right now) had an outline, but I deviated big time from it. It was better than originally planned, but it was also a mess.

    My current WIP was well plotted out, and because of that, it’s been easy to write. I wrote the first draft in five weeks, which was a record for me.

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