The Best Laid Plans…

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, right?

Well, I had planned my next blog post to explore ‘scoundrel lit’ and heroes and the like, but due to limited time today and tomorrow, I have to postpone that writing adventure until later in the week.

“So, what are you going to thrill us with today?”

I thought I’d write a brief post about–

“Wait, did you say ‘brief’? Ha ha ha…that’s funny. You…brief?”

I could always edit ‘you’ out and make it more brief.

“You could, but I have fans. They’d miss me. They might rebel…”

Moving on. Considering the change of plans this week, I thought I would ‘briefly’ touch on a topic that so many authors discuss from time to time.

Do you plot or not?

Lately, I’ve heard people label the ‘not’ as Pantsers. As in, writing by the seat of your pants.

So, which are you? A plotter or a pantser?

I tend to dabble in a little of both.

“Oh, are you being wishy-washy? Trying not to offend anyone again? You are WAAAAY too nice sometimes!”

Let me explain. I like having an idea of the beginning, middle and end. Various scenes will pop into my head while I’m brain-storming new projects and rather than dismiss them, I make notes. Sometime the scenes are part of the beginning, other times, the end. The scenes go on 3X5 cards and I pushpin them to a board next to my desk (which is currently a mess because I’m in the middle of remodeling my ‘office’ — that might explain why lately I feel so unorganized!)

So, these scenes are placed in a rough order–you could call it ‘plotting’, but I leave plenty of space between those scenes so I can slip into my ‘pantser’ mode.

“Wait…when you say it like that, it sounds a little kinky.”

I like to think of it as driving cross-country. I’m starting on one side and driving to the other. I know roughly where I’m starting, I know roughly where I’m finishing, and I know a few spots along the way I want to visit, but I leave the how I get from one location to the next up to my imagination. So, in my own odd way, I’m a plotter who enjoys writing by the seat of my pants.

“And you think that makes you special? Talk about an ego….”

No, I don’t think that makes me special. I just think that it’s okay if you mix it up and do both. I don’t think either is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’. The only thing that is ‘right’ is whatever works best for each individual person and I think sometimes perhaps new writers forget that. Find what works for you and be flexible, because what might have worked once or twice might not work again.

Because as I’ve learned yet again this week, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray…

…and sometimes the direction you end up going is even better.

“Wait, you think this post is better than the one you were planning? Seriously, we really need to talk about your ego…”

Good luck with your writing projects and thanks for stopping by for a visit.




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About inkcompetentwriter

Author of The Penitent Assassin and The Rush of Betrayal duology available at and

4 responses to “The Best Laid Plans…”

  1. Lorijo Metz says :

    Maybe that makes you a short pantster? Which might get cold in the winter, but you can always put on tights. Hummmm, I’m trying to imagine that. (Not good!) Anyway, I used to be a total pantster, but now I’m a short pantster. (I believe Stephen King is a no pantster. No wonder he writes so quickly) Like you said, you can always take a different route, but it’s nice to at least have an idea where you’re going when you start out. I keep the route in my head, though. Not one for writing it down. Thanks for the post. It was good. (Don’t let that go to your head.)

    • inkcompetentwriter says :

      LOL. Nah, I won’t let it go to me head (it’s too full of story ideas anyway, there’s no room for compliments).

      I like having an idea of where I’m going otherwise in the past I’d get somewhere in the middle and get bogged down. For quite a few years, many years ago, that was my problem with writing, I’d start out quick and get about 25-30k words into a project and not know where I was going with it. The idea would die and I’d start up on another only to have the same thing happen. Now, I prefer to have at least some idea of the ending so I know what I’m aiming for.

      Thanks for visiting and don’t strain yourself too hard imagining me with shorts and tights….I’m fairly confident it’s not a look I’ll be working any time soon. 🙂

  2. deshipley says :

    I’m sure even the hardest-core plotters still put their pants on one leg at a time…

    As for myself, I’ve become more of a plotter as the years and projects go by. …Well, okay, occasional exceptions for short stories; I’ve been known to write those with nothing in mind beyond the first couple lines or a vague concept. (And in short bursts, this can actually produce quality. Whoohoo!) For novels, though, I prefer to have a rough road map of where I’m going, complete with must-hit sightseeing stops along the way. The book I’m working on now (as well as its predecessor, for ’tis a sequel) was honored with a chapter-by-chapter outline, to make extra sure I don’t pull a “should have turned left at Albequerque”* and miss a critical plot twist. But more often, I’ll just give myself an overview of the story’s bare bones, peppered with arbitrary details whenever they fly into my head.

    *Bugs Bunny reference, for the non-Looney Tunes fans in the da house. …er, blog.

    “Find what works for you and be flexible, because what might have worked once or twice might not work again.” — an excellent point, Mr. I-C. Every story is a new adventure (which is a big part of the fun!), and may well need to be written in a different way. Stay open, authors, and enjoy the ride.

    • inkcompetentwriter says :

      “Every story is a new adventure (which is a big part of the fun!), and may well need to be written in a different way. Stay open, authors, and enjoy the ride.”

      An equally excellent point. I wonder sometimes when you’ve read authors who have written multiple books in a series why it is that after book four or five they all seem to run together a bit. I wonder if it is because an author gets into a writing rut. They do the same thing to prepare for writing every day and eventually even their books start sounding the same. I know, it’s a little off topic, but when I read the line I quoted above, I had that thought (and since it’s my blog, I wanted to share it). 🙂

      Perhaps it’s a topic to discuss another time…

      Good luck with your novels and thanks for stopping by again. (and nice Bugs Bunny reference too)

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