Do you write with plots or pants?

Here’s the question – are you a plotter or a pantser?

Do you work out the ins-and-the-outs of what’s going to be happening in that story you’re about to tell, or do you sit down and let your pants take you where they will?

Are you an organised planner, or do you set a fire under yourself and write by the seat of your literary pants?

Or, perhaps, do you do a bit of both?

Me? I’d say I’m about an 80% pantser to a 20% plotter. I start with an idea, or a character, or a scene, and I let it run. If I try and lay too much down about what’s going to happen then I get bogged down in the detail, or worse, I figure I know what’s going to happen so why write it down?

When I was writing my first novel (safely locked away from prying eyes, never to see the light of day) I had an interesting moment where I was nearing the end of the book and suddenly knew, down to the scene, everything that was going to happen.

I nearly stopped writing then and there.

But without some plotting, then where are you going to get?

And that, for me, is where the mix comes in. I have to pants. It’s like an addiction. It’s exciting. The characters grow, they misbehave, they cause all sorts of problems. And then I start to see where they’re heading, what they’re doing, what needs to happen so all the other stuff can go down.

And there’s the 20% of plotting.

But here’s the thing – recently I’ve been reading a lot of crime, psychological thriller, and non-fiction books, and it’s got me to thinking that I’d really like to write a crime novel.

A whodunit.

A hang-on-what-happened-there-oh-damn-I’ve-got-to-read-it-again-because-woah kinda book.

And for that I think I’ve got to wear less pants and spend a bit more time with the plots.

That being the case, I’m asking you plotters out there – what’s your best tips for plotting pre-writing?

What do you do?

Mind maps?


Notes on napkins?

Because, from a fairly dedicated pantser, any tips on how to plot without taking the spark out of the writing process would be damn proper gratefully received.