Why Planning Your Book isn't Always Such a Good Idea

There are two basic types of writers. Those who plan everything (plotters), and those who don't (pantsers).

I think most writers fall into the pantser category (myself included). They get the basic idea for a plot or some characters, and then just dive right in to writing the book. This strategy has its drawbacks -- you can end up with...

  1. No solid idea for a plot (you'll end up stuck in the middle, wondering where to go next)
  2. Badly written characters (you didn't spend enough time developing them, and you end up with flat, cardboard characters who have no personality)
  3. A book that's really, REALLY boring (because you didn't realize that it was boring before you started writing it)

So, should writers make an effort to plan their books out completely, before they start?

Of course, a certain degree of planning is always needed. You need to have a basic premise, for starters. You need to have an idea of your characters. You need to be sure that this is the book you want to write (see last week's post about falling in love with your writing).

But sometimes, over-planning can make you force a story that should come naturally, especially if you're a pantser.

I learned this the hard way over the summer. I decided, as a bit of an experiment, to try planning out a story for once. I put my main series (Super Sporty) aside and started drawing up something completely new. I got out a notebook and planned my five main characters. And that's when the trouble started.

I drew up the most detailed character profiles I could possibly produce. I entered in all the information about my characters that I could think of: middle names, hobbies, Myers-Briggs personality types, everything. I thought I had the perfect characters, but when I went to write a story with them in it, I found that they were, actually, incredibly stiff and cardboard. I had planned them right out of reality.

I think the take-away from this is that, as a writer, you have to be true to your writing process. If you're a planner, plan. If you're a pantser, pants. Also, if you're a plot-driven writer (like me), plot first. If you're character-driven, make up characters first. Remember: there is no right or wrong way to write a book. There's only one way; YOUR way.


This last week, Introducing Super Sporty received a 5-star review from Reader's Favorite! I don't usually "Squee", but ... SQUEEEEEE!

Introducing Super Sporty, with its rather snazzy 5-star seal

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