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The Great Fiction Debate: Plotting vs. Pantsing. Why it Doesn't Make the Slightest Bit of Difference

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

The reason the 9 Plot Story Structure works so well when it comes to ngaging readers is that it follows the human template of learning and overcoming things.

To demonstrate, let me simplify the 9-Point structure a bit. Let's group them into 4 categories:

1. A Problem Arises: this would encapsulate plot points 1 and 2.

2. The character reacts to the problem: this covers plot points 3 and 4.

3. The character becomes proactive: plot points 5 through 8.

4. The Problem is solved: plot point 9.

Download a PDF of this comparison HERE. Refresh yourself on the 9 Plot Points HERE.

We use this same template every time we learn something, need to solve a problem, need to overcome something, or go through a trial of some kind. So we're naturally drawn to this structure in a story. If any of the essential points are missing, the story feels incomplete or like it drags in places, and we, the audience, lose interest.

Plotting vs. Pantsing

This age old debate among writers really doesn't make much sense. Plotters are simply writers who outline their story before they begin writing. Pantsers write by 'the seat of their pants" and allow the story to take them where it will.

In truth, it's a silly argument. The space between plotting and pantsing is a continuum, and everyone falls somewhere in between. I, for one, am much more plotter than pantser, but I recognize that I still do plenty of pantsing in my writing.

My Writing Method:

1. I dictate words into a recorder and then use Dragon software to transcribe them. I can easily dictate 5000 words per hour using this method.

2. Then I edit the transcription, as the software never picks up anyone's voice perfectly. This can take 1-2 hours, depending on exact length and how focused I am.

3. Then I edit for crutch words. These are words I use too often that leave to passive voice. (More on this in a later post.) This generally takes about an hour.

4. I do 1-3 until I have the entire book written. While writing, I often find things that need to be added earlier in the book. Details for continuity, theme, etc. I make notes at the top of each of my chapters to go back and put these things in later.

5. Next, I go back through and put in all my notes.

6. I then do some basic formatting and send the manuscript to myself as a .mobi file so I can open it in my kindle app. I then have my iPhone read it to me and edit the entire manuscript that way. It works really well.

7. Then I put in any edits I found during the Audio Edit, and--voila!--it's ready to go to eta readers!

This is my writing process and it works well for me. What's yours?

Listen to the more fully fleshed out podcast below:

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