Generally speaking there are two kinds of writers. It can depend of the story they are writing as to the degree and which method they prefer.
- Pantzers- write by the seat of their pants, no plans, just let the muse and the story take them.
- Planners- make a plan for where the story is going and how it gets there.
I’m a planner, when I first started writing I pantzed everything, and while it works great and is very creative, I kept getting lost and forgetting important information, even whole characters.
So finally I started making plans, it works wonders for me and my writing has improved bunches and bunches.
Now there are some steps that I use for planning out a story. Some aren’t exclusive to planners, pantzers use them too. I mean you have to have an idea of who your writing about, right? Now #1 everybody uses, everything after that varies and in no particular order, we have.
- The idea that sparks the story
- Story development: consisting of brain storming; who, what, when, where, how, and why.
- Plot, Character, Setting; time and place
- Outline: take all of the above and plan out the story
Here is an example of one of my short story outlines
Section 1: Plan a vacation
- Winter Vacation plans in the works
- Make arrangement for the fabulous Mountain Chalet they found on the internet
- Not available, Bad annual storms, Cut off from help if needed, no way out
- We don’t care, we will pay more, double, Owner can’t resist money
Section 2: Arrival
- Wow It’s better than advertised
- Pick rooms, unload, unpack, start the party
- Spend time playing outside, hiking , fishing, bon fire
- Day 1 and 2 of 7 pass with no trouble
- Many comments of no storm in sight, and none forecasted (maybe owner scammed larger rental fee from them)
Section 3: Midnight, Day 3, Storm Starts
- Wind blows in then the snow starts
- Wow storm came out of now where, no panic, play in the snow the next morning
- Safety checks, generator, gas, wood, candles, snow mobiles, all good
- Take a snow mobile ride, snow fight, build snow forts
- Sun down convene around the fireplace with drinks and board games
Section 4: Now the trouble starts
- Head off to bed, except one lone night owl, reading in front of the firelight
- The reader found a book on the history of the area in the library of the Chalet
- Reader starts to cry, soon sobbing like the broken hearted
- Hear an echo, and ethereal sobbing in the background
- Reader puts down the book and walks out the door into the raging storm without out door gear.( will later be found frozen solid in the wood shed behind something not noticeable unless someone comes into the shed and looks everywhere)
Section 5: Seemingly Normal Day
- Three remaining renters wake and get breakfast
- Where is the reader, Don’t know, Coat and stuff is here, renters look for reader
- Spend the day messing around inside, to dangerous to go outside
- Night falls again
Section 6: Strike two
- Lone soak in a tub, candles, music , bubbles
- Another knocks on the door, I good just want some peace
- Start to feel sad, see some kind of stain on hands, start to scrub them
- Stain wont wash off, start to cry, cry harder as continue scrubbing
- There is another echoing, ethereal sobbing
- Wet and naked bather leaves tub and walks naked out of the French doors leading to the terrace outside and jumps off into the snow (found after snow melts)
Section 7: Strike out then strike in
- Two remaining renters wonder where their companions got to
- Spend the day wandering around, feeling listless, bored
- Start to fight, argue
- Separate to different rooms of the house
Section 8: escalation after dark
- Male watching sports in the living room when the power goes out
- Female calls out from the library
- Generator won’t start
- Fight some more, blame each other, He can’t get the generator started, she’s useless, go light candles and oil lamps in separate rooms
Section 9: She’s gotta die
- Angry at her he return to the living room broods while staring into the fire
- Starts mumbling to himself, twitching, gets up to pace, stops and looks at the door to the library where she is
- Picks up the fireplace poker, still mumbling, pace some more
- Decides she is the reason everything has gone wrong, takes a couple practice swings
- Comes up behind her in the library where she is at a writing table, starts beating her in the head with the poker
- Finished, he drops the poker, stand there panting
Section 10: What have I done
- Comes back to his right mind, looking down at the body
- Crying, asking over and over What happened?
- Kneels down trying to put her head and brains back together, not working
- Notices the blood and gore all over his hands, runs to wash them off
- Can’t seem to get it off his hands
- Echoing phantom sobs sound again
- Stand screaming and crying
- Completely overcome he grabs a knife from the drawer and slashes his wrists so that his own blood mingles with the memory of hers, he goes and picking her up walks them both out into the storm (they are found in the gazebo curled together)
Section 11: Found
- Days Later, after the storm is gone and most of the snow has melted the owner comes to the property to inspect for storm damage.
- He finds the renters car and stuff still there
- Finds the bather first as she is just lying on the ground off the balcony
- Finds the couple next as they are out in the open in the Gazebo
- Finds the reader in the wood shed
- Calls the cops
- While waiting he see’s the reader’s book
Section 12: Now we know why
- reads the suicide woman’s story
- The Cops are at the Door
Now when you write a story, things change and when I wrote this one, that is definitely the case.
So watch out for locking yourself into the outline. Writing is a fluid and constantly changing process, stories are organic and have minds of their own.
So my advice is to try both or a combination of both, see what works for you and remember nothing is written in stone and can be changed.
Have fun writing and creating my friends.
Which are you a pantzer or a planner?