With me starting at Camp NaNoWriMo on July 1st I thought that I should explain the difference between these two story methods, and what I do or don’t.
This is an expression, short for “writing by the seat of your pants”. A writer goes into a project with nothing planned and just writes what comes to them. They have no characters planned, no scenes either. They just make everything up as they go along writing.
For some people this is the best way to work on a project. They are always surprised by what appears on their screen (or on their typewriter / paper), and as a result don’t have many predictable turns in their stories.
Me? I ‘ve tried it for many years — and won the first 4 — but it proved to be too open for me. I needed more structure to guide me.
The opposite alternative is to work from a detailed outline of your story. Even the characters are defined — in name, personality is sketched, their character arcs are mapped out, the works.
Some people like that level of planning. They can come to finish novels often that way.
Personally, I find that much structure too much. I like to have some measure of surprise in my writing, so control to that level I find stifling.
That led me to an alternative:
Here‘s a description of how it’s done.
I find this method still tends to be too stifling. It still doesn’t leave room for surprises and twists.
Instead I use a hybrid method that incorporates story beats.
the beat goes on…
I create character sketches, and I outline some scenes (like the end) but I leave the rest open, so that I can still come up with other scenes that will surprise me.
I guess you would call it planned chaos.
chose your own way
Note that this is how I do it. You may chose to do things differently; say how in the comments.
Thanks for linking to my blog post, Jeff. I love your term ‘planned chaos’. That sums up my method quite well too.
Actually I got that term from NaNoWriMo.\