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Friday, January 28, 2011

Author Q&A: Plotter or Pantser?

Kailia Sage asked, "Are you a plotter or a pantser? If you're a plotter, how do you go about plotting your book (Detailed outlines, bullet points, etc.)?"

A little bit of both, I’d say. When the idea for TELL ME A SECRET came, I was at a writing conference with friends. Suddenly the whole thing flashed through my mind like a movie trailer—a story about this girl whose bad-girl older sister had died mysteriously, with all kinds of secrets and a romance and a pregnancy to blow everything apart. So I wrote it down as fast as I could. The details bloomed along the way—as did many of the secrets.

For DON'T BREATHE A WORD, I'd had this idea about a runaway (actually, I thought she was going to fake homelessness), and one day I was sitting in church and heard the youth were collecting toiletries and backpacks for the street teens who hung out one block over. All of a sudden, the entire story hit me—sort of like TMAS did. When I got home, I wrote out a fifteen page outline. I started researching and writing notes, and the story grew. (In fact, one character's appearance really surprised me and became central to Joy's secrets...)

Writers out there, are you a plotter or a pantser? What's your process?

And thank you for the question, Kalia Sage!


  1. I think I'm a little of both, too. My last novel came out of a short story I'd written about a girl who thinks her classmate is a celebrity in hiding. I like the book so much better than the story. The one I'm working on now came from a dream about going back in time and stealing a pencil from Manet's studio. I do a ton of journaling and outlining before I start the actual writing. But I continue journaling and outlining throughout the process. Gotta go write now!

  2. Hi, Katherine! Miss you! I love your book and can't wait to see it on the shelf (go, Agent Sara!).

  3. I was pretty free flow on my first book, outlining as I went. This time I'm going to try outlining it as I'm a really organized person in general. I'll see which way I like better.