Are you a planner or a pantser?
Are you a planner or a pantser?
This question, or a variation of this question, is probably as old as fiction writing itself. Do you plan out your stories or do you write them by the seat of your pants?
If you asked ten of my closest friends and family members if they thought I was a planner or pantser, I’d bet that just about all of them would guess that I was a pantser. It just seems to fit my personality. I often live life by the seat of my pants. I love unexpected adventures and hate firm itineraries on vacations. So it just seems natural that I’d fly by the seat of my pants when writing.
However, when it comes to the novel creation process, and writing in general, I’m a die-hard planner. I know it doesn’t sound like a very creative-writer-literary-thing to say, but I plot out my entire story and the majority of my characters before I even sit down at a computer.
I was shocked myself when I discovered this about my writing process. In fact, years ago, when I first decided to write a novel, I sat down and tried crank out a book by the seat of my pants. I had a title and a rough idea of the story and that’s about it. I didn’t have characters or locations or twists or any details for that matter, I just sat down and started typing. It was disastrous. I must have stared at a blank computer screen for an hour before I was able to type three or four sentences, and those sentences were so awful I deleted them from existence for all of eternity. I was terribly dejected by the entire experience and figured my writing career to be over for good.
A couple years later, I found inspiration in zombies, then read some articles online about planning out a novel and found one that made the most sense to me. Then I jumped in and began creating my debut novel, The Undying Love. It took almost three years to complete, but I did it. Yep, I wrote a book. Then I went out and even got it published. I consider the entire project to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I couldn’t have done it without planning.
My planning process looks a little like this: I start out by handwriting pages of notes about the book including a short summary, a long detailed summary, detailed character descriptions, and even sketches of what’s forming in my head. I then write out each scene with a quick one sentence description in an excel spreadsheet (the spreadsheet just makes it all easier to manipulate). These scenes then become the chapters of my book. As a write the first draft, I’m constantly going back and tweaking the spreadsheet and my notes. My notes serve a constant source of reference as I’m writing out each scene.
Yes, without planning, I’d never have achieved my dream of becoming a published author and I’d probably still be looking at a blank computer screen. I still remember the name of the book that I started years earlier and never finished. It was going to be titled Running the Streets. One day I’m going to go back to that idea and write that book, but this time I’m going to have a plan!
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The Undying Love by Greg McCabe
For Diane and Jackson, life is just about perfect. They’re healthy, happy, and madly in love with one another. Unknown to them, a virus is sweeping across the globe that instantly kills the infected and turns their corpses into mindless, murdering cannibals. In short: zombies have taken over the planet.
Diane and Jackson find out about the epidemic the hard way when their wedding is crashed by friends and family who have succumbed to the virus. Now, fighting for survival, they're faced with unthinkable decisions.
Follow their story across Southeast Texas as they meet unforgettable characters and face challenges that will put their love, and lives to the ultimate test.
About the Author:
Greg McCabe is a proud Texan. He was born and raised in Midland, Texas, received a degree in Speech Communication from Texas A&M University, and currently resides in the Lone Star State. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Mandy, his daughter, Annabelle, and his dog, Walter, as well as traveling, sports, movies, reading, and writing. He enjoys all genres of fiction, but seems to gravitate towards horror and science fiction. The Undying Love is Greg’s first book.