When Writing, Are You a Plotter or Pantser?

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 almost universally 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.

Since I (officially!) decided to dually-narrate this one, I just find that it’s easier to keep track of things if I outline by chapter, rather than writing a miniature version of the story!

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!