Moving Forward: When to Let Go of Plotting
Everybody has their own style of writing. We talk a lot about plotters and pantsers, but-just like anything in the world–these are pretty black-and-white divisions. I admit I’m more of a plotter than most writers I know–I love the feeling of creating the puzzle pieces before I get started with decorating them. I love to see the points connecting, building the structure around which I’ll layer and weave.
Even I, though, know there’s a time to let go of the plotting and write. I’m coming up on it now–I can see that by next week, I’ll be putting scenes on paper. I have a feeling, despite the varied way we come at these things, that the feelings that push us into writing are pretty similar.
Here’s how I know it’s time:
- I have plotted, at some level, to the end of the story. (For you pantsers, this might mean you now know the opening scene, the ending, and a few big scenes in between, right?)
- I have some sense, stronger than in the previous draft, of who my characters are, what they want, and what they’ll do to get that.
- I find myself, as I plot scenes, throwing in sentences, even paragraphs, into the outlines and bulleted lists. Words are starting to come, whether or not I’m asking them to.
- I start to see images in my mind of places and people. I get snapshots of moments–a lot like what happens when you freeze a Netflix download to get up for another cookie.
- I go back to scenes I’ve plotted and throw in reminders that will help me weave in some of the less major plot threads–don’t forget to have Grandma tell them about X, make sure Y shows up in this scene to do SOMETHING.
- My brain (and fingers) get a strong itch to open a new file (or in this case, Scrivener text item) and head it…Scene 01.
If you’re a plotter, when do you know that you’re “ready” to stop the plotting and start the writing? If you’re a pantser, what do you need, absolutely, to know before you write?