May 6 2017

Are you a #plotter or a #pantser? What’s the difference and why is it important? #amwriting

There is no right way to write a book. Nor is there a wrong way. The must is that it is well written. So, how do you get to a well written product?

One of the age old discussions about writing is plotting or pantsing. I think it’s important to understand where you fall on this pendulum. If you understand yourself and how your brain works, you’re writing will improve as will your stories.

After writing 10 books and a couple of novellas, I’ve developed certain patterns that make the hardest part of writing not so hard, and writing is the hardest part. The first few books I wrote, I definitely  relied o pantsing. I started with people and then tossed story ideas at them. I rewrote the same characters a few different times, in different settings, with different stories. Always the same people. I had those people down! I believe its why IN TWO WEEKS and MURDER IN PARADISE BAY are my strongest in terms of character. Not that the others aren’t flipping awesome, many of my readers have told me that Stacey Sutten, from MURDER IN PARADISE BAY is by far my strongest female lead. Funny, she and her hero Doug were the people of the second novel I wrote, only she wasn’t a trooper, but a dance teacher and it wasn’t set in Lake George. BUT, Doug was business partners with her father and he was accused of murder. Huh, interesting…why? Because I agree with Bob Mayer that story can change, but idea can’t.

However, those first few books were very painful to write because of all the pantsing and not have a clear vision. I took a lot of workshops on plotting, because I considered myself a plotter. Back then, my plotting consisted of notes in a spreadsheet and not many notes and they constantly changed as I constantly changed my story. It got exhausting.

But over the course of a few years, I leaned that I’m not the plotter I once thought I was. Yeah, my stories have some interesting twists and turns, but I can tell you that in most of my novels I get to a certain point and go, nope, that’s no who done it. I go back and read and think, wow, that’s who done it. Or, sometimes I have to create a new character for the who done it part. I hate when that happens.

So, before I start a book, here is what I “Plot”

Story Idea: Very important. So for the book that comes out on 23 May 2017 DEADLY SEDUCTION the story idea was: What if the woman you’re sleeping with was sent to destroy your career?

Character GMC (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict) for both hero and heroine: What do your characters want? Why do they want it? Why can’t they have it?

Character backstory: I write down everything I think I know about the all the characters.

Plot Points: This part is hard sometimes. Generally, all I know at the start of the book is the inciting incident, a few random scene ideas and conflict resolution. Most of the time I think I know the dark moment, but sometimes that changes.

That’s really it. I put it all in a spreadsheet and I start writing. I track my scenes, constantly making notes for revision. As I write, I discover, so I need to be able to adjust to those discoveries.

My conclusion is that I’m a plotter with pantsing tendencies!

How do you plot?

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Posted May 6, 2017 by Jen Talty in category "writing


  1. By Karen Tomsovic on

    Yeah, I lean more toward “plotter.” But that only gets me so far. So many of the finer details of the story and the strokes of brilliance come out when I just free write. Can’t do spreadsheets though. Even index cards and post-its I start and never finish. Mostly they serve to get me back on track and writing again.

    1. By Jen Talty (Post author) on

      Sometimes I start the spreadsheet, but then stop as I approach the end of the book….


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