To plot or not to plot, that is the question. What do you do?

Hey everyone,

I was wondering to what extent everyone plots out, or plans out, their stories before they write them. This question also goes for different types of formats: for example, do you normally plot out your web serials but do less plotting for standalone novels or short stories?

As for myself, I'm a big fan of the Stephen King write by the seat of your pants method, and I do zero plotting at all besides coming up with the idea for the story. However, the ideas of the stories I start with usually have some small kernel of plot, such as "a boy goes fishing and discovers a puddle leading to a parallel world", as opposed to starting a story with "it'll be an urban fantasy with a female protagonist", so in that way I do start with a tiny seed of plot.

In the past I tried to use the book "Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting" to plot out my own book before I started writing, but it ended up killing my joy long before I put a single word down to page, which is why I've abandoned the practice entirely.

What about you?

Re: To plot or not to plot, that is the question. What do you do?

Oh hey! I admire your ability to do it that way- I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed with 'blank page syndrome' as almost anything at that point is possible, and sometimes I just need a plan of something to some extent just to focus in on.  

It's great you have a way in which you can write best. Myself, I am an indepth planner.

I have an overall document that I've added ideas to for all 5 volumes, so when I come to planning the next volume I can refer to it and find what ideas I had for it.
I then give each of my characters 4/5 of their own chapters (just due to the way I structure my volumes- like comic books) and think about what will happen to them over their chapters which I then weave them all together to tell one story- their arcs will cross with others too.  This way I can see the bigger picture in front of me which works best for me. 
I'd still say I can be flexible and will sometimes combine two chapters if I think it'd be tricky to write 2 separate ones when I get to them and have an idea of how my overall pacing is going, and I will often move them up or down depending on where they fit better. 

When it then comes to writing each chapter, I then visualise it and plan it out- so for me, my writing time is then more productive. 

Often on r/wattpad which I frequent, there'll be questions from young people who get stuck with their ideas or don't know what to do next or how to turn something into a longer story, so I advocate planning their story out first before they continue so they have an idea of where they're heading. 

Also just noticed you're new to posting in the forums so welcome!

Re: To plot or not to plot, that is the question. What do you do?

I like to have a lot of layers and hints all along the story, so I have to plot. 

It also gives me the freedom to not worry about loose ends or forgetting things.

For a more straightforward we novel I might have less plotting, especially in a litrpg setting since progression is carried by stats more than plot. 

Of course, needs to be interesting, but having stats is already a way to progress and keep people hooked. 

Re: To plot or not to plot, that is the question. What do you do?

I am both a pantser and a plotter. 

Stories that require a very lengthy plot- I try to write all the main points in the span of a week or two to get all the ideas I want in a story out of my head. 

Then once I have the ending and major points, I write my first draft where I "loosely" follow my points because sometimes the characters and the world just go off on their own and sort of derails. 

I'm not sure if this is a good method- but I try to write based on my characters personality - so the "plot" is very dependent on my my characters personality and the choices they make based on that personality. 

Sometimes, it's a gamble because I get stuck at a plot point. I'm still a novice so I'm trying to find what works best for me 

Re: To plot or not to plot, that is the question. What do you do?

I'm quite a heavy plotter.

After the general idea of my story and setting some key points and plot twists, I'll look at my characters in depth. Besides character sheets, I'm writing additional scenes for them that won't actually happen in the story. Like, if the sheet would ask what the biggest fear of your character is, I might write an actual scene to really get in touch with the character, instead of only writing: cookies.
Then I'll fill out the gaps between the key points until I have a solid scene plan.
Then I'll add another layer, considering how the mood of the characters changes, scene by scene, and how the relationship between the characters might change.
Another layer, when to reveal which information might also be helpful sometimes.

I'm regularly writing at the NaNoWriMo and there, plotting has proven as a lifesaver for me. Sometimes, I have to take another route for my story, but knowing, where the story should go and knowing, how the characters will react in front of this new situation or in combination with another character, really helps.

I'm also planning another, longer series for RR, where I'll most likely plan story arcs in a similar way, I'd plot for a novel. 


Re: To plot or not to plot, that is the question. What do you do?

I use the eight sequence method. I used to pants stories but I would end up writing slower and get stuck more often and then I'd have to edit more. Plotting means I can write faster and I always know where I'm going. I plotted my webnovel to the fourth arc which allowed me to foreshadow the events from the first. There's no way I could have done that if I didn't know what was going to happen next. I like the eight sequence method because I can plan widely and not in too much detail meaning I still have a lot of freedom when I'm actually putting words to paper.