Confessions of a ‘Plantser’

It’s a very common question that writers ask one another. New authors and old-hands seem to return to this question repeatedly. In the writing world it’s almost as common as the conversational “So, what do you do for a living?”

Some authors can answer the question with a precise chronological time line others will give you a shrug with “I wing it.”

The question is, of course, How do you do it?

This can be asked in a multitude of ways.
Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you outline? How do you come up with this stuff? Where do you get your ideas?

I’m new to this gig and even I have run into this ubiquitous question. So – the last time it came up I took the time to really think about “my process.”

I’m a bit of a “plantser”. That’s someone who has a plan – to a point – and then they just jump and see what happens.



  • 1. Pass one is basically bullets. How are characters feeling? What is the problem each is facing? How can they solve it?

  • 2. From those bullets I form a timeline. This lets me see where I can have one character’s story help progress another’s. It also lets me get an idea of the scenes I will need.

  • 3. During the timeline there are usually 1-2 good ideas that are expanded on.

  • 4. This leads me to the scenes I will need to get through this progression. Start laying out the where, when, blocks, hindrances.

  • 5. From there dialogue. What are these two (or more) characters needing to say to one another.

  • 6. Sometimes inspiration strikes and you just get a gem of an exchange.

  • 7. From there a very rough draft written on paper with asterisks and arrows and things numbered and rearranged.

  • 8. Then I go to the computer – and start typing. Here one sentence might blossom into a scene all of its own.

    Nothing gets cut. Every idea is recorded.

That is how I get to my first complete draft.

For me, this approach feels organic and easy. Heaven knows we don’t need to put roadblocks in our own way.

Like everything in life – you have to find what works for you.

Best wishes,
and keep writing.

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