Plotting, pantsing, or something in between, oh my! Every author is as unique in their process as the books they write. I have author friends who won’t write a word of a draft before they have
finished with a detailed outline and summary of every chapter from beginning to end. I also have writer friends who open a blank document and begin typing allowing the story to unfold as they create. Let me just say right now, neither of these ways of writing is wrong, and I don’t believe you can tell which author is which by reading the story once it is published.
This 100% has to do with how the author best interacts with information both coming in and going out. I personally started my life as a writer as a pantser. I would turn on my music and let the story take me where it would.
Today, I call myself a transitioning writer, meaning I am somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. As I have begun writing more complex plots, I find I can’t keep the pieces in place because they are often moving. I have moved to a “loose” outline of the major plot points or beats in each Act. I Then plan the chapters in that Act, using post it notes. I use the post it notes, because if I decide to change something it is easy to do, because I think I will always be a pantser at heart.
I am finding that this process allows me the flexibility to follow the story where it leads, but to make sure the new direction isn’t taking it off the rails and keeps the story moving forward in a
clear direction, which makes rewriting and editing less daunting when I get to that point.
Not to mention I have finally found a use for all those pretty notebooks, I can’t help but buy when I see them, but then bring home and leave on a shelf to collect dust.
Over the years I have read many craft books and always try to keep an open mind, but only use those things that I feel will help me and my process. Like I said every author has their own process, and I doubt any two are identical, and I see my writing process as a living breathing thing, that changes and evolves as I become a better writer. I also find it depends on what the story calls for. Some stories require a writer to slow down and look at it step by step, while others fly by happily unplanned.
I know that when I am finished, regardless of how I got there, my readers will get the best book I was able to produce in that moment and time. I believe that all authors are the same in the end. We are all striving to put out our best possible book, and if that means making spreadsheets, and google maps of a particular neighborhood then so be it. But it is also just a plausible that the author sat down, and binge wrote the last 10,000 words without having a clue to the ending until they wrote the end. That is what makes writing such a magical profession. There is no wrong way to get to The End, only your way.