Should You Plot Your Novel First or Just Start Writing?

By Roxanna Coldiron

When you have a story idea, you just want to get started. Why wait, right? Then there is the other side of the coin in which you work on plotting and character sketches and research…but never get to writing it. Both methods have their merits and pitfalls.

Plotting the novel first

The benefit of plotting before you start writing is that you have a good idea of where the story will be going. You know how it starts, how it ends, and all the details in between. You don’t run the risk of making your characters run in circles.

There are different ways to go about plotting your novel. You can create storyboards, but a simple plot outline also works. The method you that you choose is up to you!

Just start writing

If you decide to start writing without doing any preliminary plot planning, you get the benefit of having the story unfold in unexpected ways. You still have to comb through your plot when you edit and fix holes and inconsistencies. And since you didn’t plot it first, you might have more holes than you would have otherwise.

Another benefit to the “just start writing” method (also known as “pantsing” because you are writing “by the seat of your pants”) is that you make sure to actually write it. How many of us have gotten an idea for a novel, do all the research, and never get started?

Which way do you go when working on a novel? Plot first or write first?