While I’m no stranger to sitting down and actually plotting out a book, my most recent efforts have been almost entirety of the pantsing variety. For those less familiar with the nomenclature, plotting is when you sit down and figure out your story from point A to point B before writing it, while pantsing is sort of making it up as you go along, “by the seat of your pants,” as it were. When I wrote Soulless, I had no idea where it would lead me. Even a month before I published Soulless, I wasn’t entirely sure, though I had the main objectives in mind. It turned out okay; I forged through to the end and then worked out the points of plot that didn’t work in the editing stages. This meant taking out scenes, writing up new ones, moving things around and altering details throughout the piece, which worked, but I sometimes wonder if it’s not the easiest way to do things.
So I’ve decided to approach the second book in The Slayer Saga in the complete opposite way, by plotting it out, spending the next few months to outline and plan while using NaNoWriMo to really bust out a rough draft. Part of me thinks I’m crazy for approaching the second book in a different way than the first (how will it change the tone of the books, if at all?), but it just feels right, so I’m going to give it a try. Now, my previous attempts at outlining were pretty simple, reminiscent of outlining for a formal paper, but I’m thinking of somehow incorporating index cards somehow, though it’s all pretty new to me, so who knows how far I’ll delve into that. I think that, as a second book, this more detail-orientated approach will be a big help, because, after all, this is the glue that will hold the two books together. It’ll need to be solid if I want to convince readers to stay on for the long haul.
Who out there is a pantser and who is a plotter? Do you dabble in a little bit of both, and how do you decide which method will be more effective? Anyone have any tricks or protips for someone venturing out into their first real attempt to plot in several years? Let’s get a discussion going.