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Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

Whimsical collage of water skiing girls in front of a mountain range with a hot air balloon in the background and a newspaper sunset

In today’s installment of our “how to write a book” mini-series, we’re diving into outlines!

And, yes, I know outlines aren’t the most fascinating topic, so I’ll keep it short. : )

Here’s what you should know: not every author uses an outline. In general, there are two camps in the writing community:

  1. Plotters, who plot their novels in advance

  2. Pantsers, who follow where the book leads (writing “by the seat of their pants”)

I’ve mentioned before that, in drafting the sequel to Ahead of Her Time, I’m trying to base my process on that of Elizabeth Peters. She was a fanatical outliner. In research I did on her writing process, she typically had multiple outlines for each book (a short 1-3 page outline, and a longer 7-15 page outline).

Here’s what I’m doing differently, though: rather than write a synopsis-style outline, as she did, I’m creating a chapter-by-chapter outline. I just find that it’s easier to keep track of things that way, but things might yet change.

What are your thoughts on outlines? For essays, I’m a firm believer in their necessity, but I’m not experienced enough with novel-writing to have strong opinions for books yet!

Get all the details in the Vocabbett podcast. Listen below or on your favorite player!

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