Plotter or Write without a Net?


In New York in July, I attended a writing conference and had the opportunity to ask a number of best seller authors are you a Plotter or Pantser?

I was surprised at the remarks.

From a panel of six  authors, only one (Steve Berry) said he never understood how anyone could write a big novel without outlining.  The rest of the authors just looked at him and smiled.

One author said he knew the characters so well, once he started, the characters took over and wrote the story.  Another said he’s write 70% of the book and then do a reverse outline  of what he’d written so far to make sure it all made sense.

One blockbuster series author( I found out later from another writer) starts his books with “Chapter one”  and then writes.

My own experience was for my first novel, I outlined, did character charts, used a whiteboard, interviewed my characters and used a software called “writing blocks” to help me organize the writing.  This process took a long time and wasn’t overly productive.

The next novel I wrote was via National Novel Writing month.  No outline. I started with a small scene of a man in jail receiving a crayon laden postcard from his 5 year old daughter.  I started with that and wrote without a net.  If you aren’t familiar with NANO, you sign up to write 50,000 words in a month – which equals 1667 words per day.  That means unless you don’t have a full time job or a family or friends you can’t do much pre-work. Outlining goes out the window.

I wrote by the seat of my pants and got at the end a reasonable story with a beginning, middle and end.  Not bad for 30 days.

If the thought of writing without a net scares you, try some timed writing ala Bob and Jack’s writing blog.

You will be surprised what you come up with


About Tony Ollivier

Author, Writer, Editor and most days a technologist,
This entry was posted in pantser, plotting and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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