October 30: Five Signs That You Don’t Plot Enough

AS a plantser, I understand how long and detailed plotting and planning can feel like a chore. I can also sympathize with people who find that pre-established plot lines choke their creativity. Some writers need to write those first 250 words, despite the fact that they’re garbage, in order to get the creative juices flowing. I understand.

Regardless of your creative process, perfecting it is a never-ending process. Recognizing that you need to find a BETTER way of getting the writing done is part of growing as a writer and as a person. For plantsers, it can be hard to find the sweet spot, where careful planning and mercurial “inspiration” merge. However, there are ways to tell that you haven’t found that happy balance yet. These are my top 5 signs that you need to do a little more plotting or outlining before you sit down to write. 

Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe. Are you more of a plotter than a pantser, or do you take scant notes and follow your muse?

Five Signs You Need To Plot More

  1. Frequent writer’s block. Some days its okay to write words that you hate. But if you frequently get stuck or spend a lot of time trying to write your way out of a corner, then that’s a sign that you need to spend a little more time on your outline. Plotting helps to give you a target to write towards and “following the light” while writing will help you to avoid getting lost or stuck (I think I milked that analogy for all it’s worth). 
  2. Massive plot holes in the rewrites. This takes one of two forms. Either you spend a lot of time in the editing phase trying to fill plot holes OR you accidentally create them during editing while trying to fix another problem. It’s important to keep track of the conflicts in your storyline and either resolve or address each of them. Don’t just leave us wondering “whatever happened to her dead older brother’s watch?”
  3. It’s ALWAYS messy. As you write you will notice that your rough drafts become cleaner and cleaner. Not only will you find fewer and fewer typos, but you should need less and less editing unless you change genres or embark on a particularly ambitious project. If your editing time isn’t getting shorter as you progress you probably need to spend more time developing your ideas.
  4. Long and detailed character descriptions. This is usually a sign that you, yourself, don’t know your characters very well. It’s rare that the details of a character’s style or physical features are important to the story. Even when a lot of detail is necessary (such as when they are aliens or badly scarred) writers rarely do this in a single block of text. You need to spend more time building your character profiles and learning their “voices” before you sit to write. 
  5. Obvious factual errors! Watch this video to see my rant on failure to check your damned facts!

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