There are many debates in the world of writing: pen and paper vs. computer, traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, indie vs. mainstream, blog vs. website. The simple truth is there is no right or wrong way to go about this process. Every writer is different, so each process is different. One debate I find the most interesting is plotting vs. pantsing.
Plotting is where a writer creates a plan before writing a draft. Some writers have to have everything planned out. They have to have sketches of every major and minor characters. They worldbuild. They have outlines of every chapter. There is little room to go off the path. And even when they do, there’s a plan. I find novels or long short stories encourage plotting. Pantsing, on the other hand, is when writers just starts writing. There is no set plan. In the process of writing, characters come off the fly, a plot slowly forms, a world is created right before their eyes. During the editing, they may decide to flesh out a main character further and clean up some details. The purpose, when all is said and done, is to get it out of the mind and onto the page. This is especially the case with poems and flash fiction.
Some are pure plotters, some are pure pantser. And some are both of varying degrees depending on the project, which is the case with me. I consider myself more of a plotter than a pantser. I have to, at least, have character sketches and a basic idea of the plot before writing a draft. But when it comes to the actual writing, I am a pantser. I don’t always start at the beginning of a story. I find writing the beginning to be the most difficult. I’ll start at a major plot point somewhere in the middle. As I edit, I’ll come up with a beginning based around what I’ve written so far. This is especially the case with short stories. If I do write a novel, I want a plan. I can’t imagine writing any other way.