There are many ways to approach writing a book and they all fall into one of two buckets. The folks who outline the whole book – Plotters – and those who fly by the seat of their pants – Pantsers – and that’s the last time I’ll use that word. It’s a cruel attempt at alliteration that, IMO, doesn’t flatter either group.
First, Outliners are doing a lot more than plot, ideally they are charting character arcs and locations, selecting frames for their story. Plus “Plotter” sounds too much like “Plodder” which may be accurate and may not be.
To go along with the alliteration theme, I propose Framers and Flyers.
Both begin with an idea. The Framer considers it, develops it, and before writing begins, they outline the key points, character arcs, theme, setting, or just the high points. Everyone is a bit different.
It would be a mistake to think Flyers don’t have a framework; they do. They have a general sense of where things are going, but allow room for the characters to discover their path on their own. Flyers are more open to tangents and complete deviations.
Framers would suggest they have less rewriting time. If only it were true. Flyers believe they have a more organic approach to characterization. That isn’t true, either.
Flyers will still make notes, keep their outline in their head, and dive in.
Framers hold back, figuring out timelines and turns, and don’t dip their toes until they’re set.
Either way is good. I’m more of a flyer in fiction, discovering the story and theme as I go. In non-fiction, I’ll generally figure out the chapter names before writing, some key points, which edges me over to Framer.
Don’t get hung up on being one or the other. If you have to Frame, frame with joy! If you prefer to Fly, fly free!
If you’re half Framer and half Flyer, that’s OK too. I’ve found Scrivener to be a happy place for all of us. (I’m following their continuing saga of getting Scrivener 3 for Windows out. They’ve been promising all year and now it’s some time early in 2020. I’ll download the Beta soon, just to have a look).
What I love about Scrivener is the corkboard view where notecards for each scene/chapter/whatever are found. Each notecard consists of a name, description, and as a springboard to the content. You can create notecards as you go, create a bunch in no particular order, or give them an order and rearrange when the time is right.
I think in notecards, but that wouldn’t be enough to move me from Word. What does jump me to Scrivener is the ability to keep things in one place. I develop characters as I go, and Scrivener helps me keep track of them. I’ve got a lousy memory, so having name and character description handy is important to me.
The rich ecosystem of Scrivener can free the Framer and stick the Flyer in an organic fashion the Flyer so loves.
The trick is learning Scrivener. They have tutorials. You can use it at a surface level or dig deep into the features. The best thing is that it’s cheap. Other programs run hundreds of dollars. Scrivener is around $45 and worth every penny. Check it out at www.literatureandlatte.com and feed the Framer or Flyer in you. It’s a great Christmas present!