When you sit down to write your story do you start with a clear outline, or do you plop your butt in the chair and start pouring out the words, writing ‘by the seat of your pants’?
I’ve heard some authors say that it depends on the book, and changes with each new project.
For me, generally something random will spark an idea for a story and I’ll begin to get swamped with full and partial scenes. They flood my mind playing like a movie. I’ll start to question the character’s actions and what’s motivating them, and from that the plot will begin to take form.
At that point I’ll start writing out the scenes. I don’t like to let them sit too long before getting them down on paper (or more likely in a Word document). If the characters are talking and vividly engaging with one another in my mind it’s the best time to get the words down, otherwise I might lose them, or the next time I sit to write the scene it won’t have nearly the same urgency.
Once I’ve got those establishing scenes then I start trying to get the story organized. For me, this is where the process will morph depending on what the story needs. But for the most part I’ve stuck to the same organizational methods.
What I try to do next is develop the characters. This involves filling out a character profile, and finding a suitable model or actor to use as a reference. It’ll often include finding clothing styles and mannerisms that work with that character.
The other major part of planning involves a big piece of Bristol board and sticky notes. My office starts to look a little like those murder boards you see on crime shows. I like using sticky notes because I can move them around if I have to make changes. Each sticky note will have a brief description of the scene, characters involved, and which POV I’m going to be writing in. Some of them get a little red heart, which represents the love scenes.
Another thing I’ll do as I’m writing the story, is type notes in my word document for use at a later time. These consist of friendly reminders so that things stay consistent, or notes reminding me what I want to reveal when I get back to a particular scene.
The last thing I do is work on my settings. I’ll make documents specifically for planning out what each setting/scene looks like. This makes writing in description much easier later on. I’ll almost always start with a floor plan. The custom build home that Amelia and Gabe Fuller live in is a common setting in My Mistletoe Master, so finding a floor plan was essential for me to properly visual the story.
Things will change though. Scenes that are originally on my board will get removed, or new sticky notes will be added. Ultimately the characters make the decisions and I have very little control over what happens next.
So am I a plotter or a pantser? Well, I think it’s a little bit of both.
What about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser?