Writing is such a journey, and while we all seek the same destination (a published novel) the road to travel is vastly different. When we create the perfect novel, how do we do it? There seem to be two ends of the spectrum

Multi-drafter <————————————————————————————————–> Planner


Planners spend weeks, months, or years planning out their story. They know all details of their story from start to finish, and what they write is sometimes set in stone.


Multi-drafters find their story as they are writing. They do little or no planning before they start, and will rewrite their story many times. The final version of their story might be completely different from their first version.

And Me

Okay, so I must admit that I lean more towards a planner! I have over a dozen partially fleshed out ideas chasing each other in my brain, crying their non-existent eyes out for my attention. So while I pick one for the story to write, I don’t remain entirely faithful. I actually plan story B in my head while I am writing story A. Then when I am done with story A, I spend a week to a month plotting out my new novel on paper and allowing myself to do research. I know exactly what each chapter will contain; I know what the world looks like; and I know each of the characters individually, like a best friend. But, more often than not, I have the hardest time with names. Unless the title or the protagonist’s name comes right away, I go through names like I go through tissues when I have a very bad cold. (And yes, that does confuse my critique group. The names, not the tissues.) There are many things in my story that are set in my mind, but there are many things that I realize as I write my first draft. While I know that a certain event has to happen in chapter nine, I don’t know exactly why it will happen. But as I’m writing, all the final pieces fall into place and suddenly it all becomes clear! My story becomes complete.

So what are you? What is your writing process?

10 thoughts on “multi-drafter or planner?

  1. I plan until I can’t stand it — which is to say I don’t plan very long or extensively. The trouble is that I get impatient to start drafting. So usually my planning consists of writing opening scenes — lots of them — until I can feel my characters coming to life. My initial tries at the opening scenes change dramatically from one to the next until the entire shape of the book I thought I was writing solidifies into something completely different and somehow gels for me enough that I can push forward. I can’t outline; I have no clue what will happen in each chapter; but I do have a vague idea of the shape of the story once I really press into the draft, and the shape continues to alter and further solidify with each draft.

  2. Oh, and I experience the same thing you mentioned about knowing a particular scene needs to happen but not knowing why. When I’m drafting, I go with what “feels right,” and I often don’t know why it’s right for another draft or two or three when the pieces finally click together. 🙂

  3. In the past I’ve been a multidrafter. My current WIP is more planned. I had the basic plot points ordered in my mind and, when I veered from what I originally planned, the story didn’t work for me. I had to go back and fix it so that it was back with the original “outline.” (Mindline???) So I don’t know what I am.

    How shocking. I might turn into an outliner…

  4. Multidrafter. Totally. Although my second book was a little less on the MD side and slightly toward the planning side, but still I’m overwhelmingly a multidrafter. Great post!

  5. I love the content of your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    I am an internal planner I think. More like a dreamer. I go to sleep at night getting to know my characters and putting them in different situations until I understand who they are. Then when it hits me just right, I sit down and write. I have found that it helps to have a general idea what my plot is but as I write I let the story take me where it wants to go. My current WIP went somewhere totally unexpected on my part, but I like it better. I think that is why Nanowrimo works for me. Write until the story is all down and then go back and revise.

    I keep thinking that a more defined plan would save some time during revisions, but if I overplan I lose the emotional quality that I like in my writing.

  6. I’m a multi-drafter, which actually bugs sometimes because I think I end up writing a bagillion times more than I need to. But I get to know my characters really well. 🙂 I actually figured out my favorite groove for writing just recently. I used to get all stopped up with revisions, but now that I have a good bit of my book written, I keep ahead on continuing writing but revise as I go too. So the chapter I submit to my writers group for the week, I revise it from their suggestions but it doesn’t stop the show because I’m still writing my rough draft as I go along. Granted, it helps that I have a pretty clear vision of my book by now. (About time!)

    Oh, and I am like Nativityfestival/Charity…I’m an internal planner. I “write” in the shower.

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