To plot or not to plot, that is the question. You could liken it to packing a suitcase. Do you shove everything and lumber yourself or do you travel lightly and risk being caught unprepared?
The benefits of planning or plotting a novel are obvious. You know where you are going and you know what’s going to happen. We briefly covered this topic in Keeping Track. How far do you plan ahead if at all? Do you wake up one day and say “Hey, I’m going to write a novel” like John Boyle the man who penned The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (he completed his work in two and a half days) or do you have selected chapters planned out months in advance, each sentence planned out word for word? (Isn’t that basically writing I hear you ask? I don’t think it counts as writing until it’s written down or typed up somewhere). For some people plotting is the best part in the novel writing process. No rules, no deadlines, no limits.
The negative side to plotting is that the fun may vanish when you start draft one. The surprise of the tale has gone, the twists and turns are now signposted. It begins to feel like a chore, another task to be completed before you allow yourself to have fun. Plotting could be seen as the hardest part of writing a novel as very little is actually written and in most cases most of what we plan never happens in the finished article.
I’m a plotter. I like to know everything that’s going to happen in my novel before I set pen to paper. For me, world building is the part I enjoy the most when working on a novel. Sometimes, I’ll sit down to write, study my notes and then write something completely different. Why? Who knows? The characters take on a life of their own. This leads to countless redrafts, edits and overhauls and most of the time it’s for the better. There are some things you can’t plan out, they just happen. Sometimes however I write complete crap. This is why I’m not a sit-down-and-just-write sort of person.
What do you do? Do you plan every nitty gritty detail or do you make it up as you go along? Comment your answers down below.