Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Short Draft

As a writer, I'm a plotter. I have to know how the story is going to end before I can even think about beginning it. But, I can't outline.

I tried. I would sit down and try to bullet point each of the main plot points, but I couldn't get it right. I had a good idea of how the story was supposed to go in my head. Putting it down in written form was impossible.  

Eventually, I figured out the answer for me. I write what I call the short draft.  

As I'm plotting out the story, I write out a sort of summary or synopsis. Kind of what I want to happen in the story. I can work on this for weeks (a couple, anyway) until I have a cohesive story. Some sections I sort of skip over, while others I write out in some detail. The thing can end up being about 6000 words.

It's not a novel by any means, but once I'm done with the thing, I have an idea of where I'm going. I then take that document and turn each paragraph into a bullet point. As I write my first draft, I check off paragraphs as I write them into the story.  

So, I guess I do write an outline, sort of.  

Then, somewhere around chapter 3, I find that I deviate from my short draft. I start to go off on weird tangents. I add characters. I take out scenes that I thought would work. I rearrange events.  

Yeah, kind of like battle plans not surviving contact with the enemy, my "outline" doesn't survive contact with the actual writing.  

Ah well. I think this still qualifies me as a plotter.  


  1. I think every writer is some combination of both. I'm a pantser, but I often write down bits of future scenes and plot points for reference. I guess we're plotpantsers? :)

  2. Right now I'm having a love hate relationship with outlining. I want to outline badly, it makes me excited just thinking about it. But when the time to outline actually rolls around. . . I don't want to do it anymore. ;) Maybe I'll try your method someday.

  3. I'm pretty sure I still fit in the 'pantser' group. But I have been known to have an idea of how the story's going to end, before reaching that end, I must admit. hehe

  4. Whatever method works but I do think that this qualifies you as a plotter. It shows your attempt at organizing your thoughts before launching into colorful prose.

    I have no idea how pantsers function. How can they keep from wandering off? I they just start with a conversation, a description, have the character go eat breakfast, pee, go to school? It seems so strange to me.

    Pantsers maybe have trouble world-building which could be a topic to post about. Maybe they feel they need to establish the world first before they dive in and can really feel what's going on and the way they go about doing that, is to just start writing. It's odd.

  5. I think the term is 'plantser'. I'm one of these. I have a rough idea of where I'm going to end up but the path there is hazy. I do think about the world building stuff ahead of time though - I think that's essential.

  6. I think you are half plotter and half panster. You are a plonster.

  7. Sounds pretty much like my process on my current (meaning my very first) WIP. The big difference is that I didn't realize that what I had written was only a synopsis, not a fleshed out chapter. I thought I was almost done.

    I've learned a lot since then.


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