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Fiction Writers – Are you a Plotter or a Seat-of-the-Pantster?

By Madelaine Ginsberg aka Madelaine Grant, Pen Woman In Art and Letters.

As a fledgling romance writer twenty years ago, I took a workshop on how to successfully plot your next book. The presenter was an established romance writer who plotted her books from beginning to end. Using a large bulletin board in her office, she marked each section of her book on different-colored post-it notes and attached them to the board. In this way she was able to keep a fast-paced story going without a ‘sagging middle’, as she termed it. I was fascinated by this exacting plan. Could I write a book this way?


I tried very hard to copy her plan of action, to no avail. By the time I wrote half a dozen post-it notes, I was bored with the story. Feeling like a failure, I went back to my own way of writing, not knowing exactly what would happen next to my characters and enjoying the suspense. In time, I learned that there are two methods of writing fiction. Some writers like plotting the whole story first and, occasionally, adding something unexpected. For others of us, “seat-of-the-pants’ writers, we love the spontaneity and improvising that comes with not knowing exactly how the story will proceed.


Either way is fine. It all depends on which way is best for you. Knowing this, I can relax and allow myself to dream up anything that seems plausible, try it out and decide if it works. I don’t have to know exactly how the

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