How To Start Writing A Book: To Plot It or Pants It?

Ask any writer how they set about writing their books, and you’ll get one of two answers: I “plot” it, or I “pants” it. It’s a rare bird who won’t side heavily one way or the other. So how’s a new author supposed to decide which way they should do it? The truth is, there’s no right or wrong way. It’s all up to you. To help you decide, here are some pros and cons of each, but before then; I will love to give a short explanation of what each means.

What is Plotting?

Plotting refers to the sequence of events inside a story which affect other events through the principle of cause and effect. The causal events of a plot can be thought of as a series of sentences linked by “and so”. … The term plot can serve as a verb and refer to a character planning future actions in the story.

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Pros Of Plotting A Book

  • It requires less editing because you don’t have as much extraneous material that needs to be cut or rewritten.
  • It requires less time involved in both the writing and editing process. If you have an outline as your roadmap, you don’t need to take a round-about way of getting to your destination. Obviously, if there’s less to edit, less time is needed.
  • Thinking and planning stage is figured out before writing, so you don’t have to worry as much about “getting stuck” and having to decide where to go next.

Cons Of Plotting A Book

  • May feel that the writing is too stuffy if you don’t allow ideas to come up organically.
  • May feel like you can’t deviate from the outline, which makes writing boring and uncomfortable.

What is Pantsing?

Pantsing (also known as winging it) is the term Wrimos use refer to writing without a fixed outline (an outline that the writer will force themselves to follow). A Wrimo who adopts the pantsing approach to writing is called a pantser.

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Pros Of Pantsing A Book

  • Writing process feels more exciting since you are discovering what will come next as you go along.
  • It can be more conversational, which is more enjoyable to write and to read.
  • You can start writing right away without taking the time to plan everything out in advance. If you are excited to just start writing, this is important.
  • It can help you get into the writing flow and let the words and ideas come to you organically.

Cons Of Pantsing A Book

  • One may feel “stuck” a lot. Once you finish one section, you have to rethink what to discuss next.
  • It can take longer to complete the book because generally, some of the material will need to be cut because it’s off topic. This wastes time and prolongs the editing process.
  • If you get stalled, not knowing what to write about next or in what order, you may give up and end up not finishing the book.

Usually, even pantsers have a beginning idea of what they want to convey in their book. You’ll need to do the research of determining what your book topic will be, and in doing that, you usually come up with at least a broad outline of what you want to include. The important thing is to write the way that feels best to you so that you get your book finished and out there working for you.

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