According to what I’ve gleaned from Twitter, I’m what you might call a “plantser.” A combination of the terms “pantser” and “planner,” a “plantser” is someone who tends to plan ahead but may go off-script (so to speak). Unlike most “plantsers” I’ve heard of however, I think I do things a little bit backwards.
While most “plantsers” seem to start with a plan and then work the plan until it breaks down and they need to improvise, I tend to improvise until I run out of steam or encounter a wall, and then I switch to planning. The first bits of every story I write are completely improvised (even if they don’t even up at the start of the story in the end), but once I’ve pried open the idea with whatever flows out of my brain I like to give it a little structure.
In writing my first novel, for example, I put down over half of the story before I went back to adjust with any sort of planning. As a result, entire portions were cut and parts were re-written to fit my new plan, but at that point the story turned from a plausible but flawed series of events into a very possible and quite accurate (physics-wise) portrayal of a harrowing journey into the unknown. Instead of using structure to get my work off the ground, I tend to use it to go back and adjust my work to better fit the surroundings it has grown from.
While I acknowledge it may be true that “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” it’s also equally true that no structure can be properly built without one. I just take things a little bit backwards and use the plan to reinforce and tweak my writing instead of begin it.
But hey, my brain has always been a little wonky – why shouldn’t my methods be wonky too? 😉