I was once asked a very important and pertinent question in an interview I gave. The question was this: Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer or do you first design the details of the plot and write as per its demands? The answer to this question encompasses one of the most essential ingredients of writing a fictional novel.
What Is Seat-of-the-pants Writing?
I am myself a seat-of-the-pants writer and I have written two novellas in the suspense thriller genre. Let us first define who is a seat-of-the-pants writer. This kind of writer does not think of a plot and its adornments beforehand. They do not have a list of characters ready. The curves and bends in the stories they write, pop out of their minds, as they write. For people who write this way, writing is a big adventure.
What Is Structured Writing?
The structured writer is one who meticulously designs his plots and the cast of characters beforehand. One writer who belongs to this category is JK Rowling. In fact, I remember reading somewhere that she had designed the plots of all the Harry Potter novels right at the time she wrote the first one.
Now let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of the two different types.
Advantages And Disadvantages of Seat-of-the-pants Writing
The main advantage is that a seat-of-the-pants writer is not trapped by any knots with which he or she may have tied themselves, for the simple reason that they do not have a plot designed beforehand. For such writers’ ideas occur instantly as they write. I have heard that Stephen King’s famous book ‘The Shining’ was written without any pre-designed plot. Another writer who writes this way is Abhisar Sharma who is also a journalist. Abhisar mentioned this in one of his interviews with Blogchatter, when I posed this question to him.
Another advantage of being a writer of this kind relates to the fact that our imagination is more likely to be propelled forward if we do not have any pre-conceived notions and this gives the writer an impetus to think out of the box.
There are also some major disadvantages of writing by this method. One problem is that you don’t know your destination and the writer might find himself in a morass, unable to proceed forward. Another problem is that since one does not have a plot one may end up taking a very long time to write a novel.
Advantages And Disadvantages of Structured Writing
Let us now look at the different aspects of structured writing. Here you will have everything ready with you before you write. This makes the art of writing easier. Since you have everything ready you can write with panache. There is no chance that you will get tied up in knots. In addition, it gives you more time to think of several other aspects of your writing.
The chances of falling into a ravine and finding no way out of it is very less. Since everything is pre-designed it will all come out very easily. But if you do fall into a morass, you will have to go back to the drawing board and change a lot of things and in the end, you may find you have an altogether different plot than the one you began with. You will have to be very sure that there are no holes in the plot at the time of design itself.
All said and done writers can try writing using both methods and choose the one they are most comfortable with. After attempting to write a few books you will naturally realize which type you belong to.