I’ve been told that there are three types of authors: Plotters, Pantsers, and Plotansers (Plotter + Pantser, so a combination of both).

I think most authors are Plotansers (some combination of both), but the level/detail to which a person plots or flies by the seat of her/his pants varies greatly.

What I do:

1. Character driven: All my books (so far) are character driven. Therefore I define the characters (hopes, dreams, faults, etc.) and I decide how they’re going to change over the course of the book. What will he/she learn? What is the point?

2. Before I write I also create: a character sheet for each main character (physical traits, quirks, fears, relationships, education, history, etc.), a
master list of places (fictional places), and a master character
list/spreadsheet of all characters. This way I can keep track of who is who and how tall
they are, etc.

3. I plot the entire book before writing, every chapter, every scene. If the book I’m writing is part of a series and I want the books to connect, I plot every book in the series before writing the first (this is what I did with the Winston Brothers). When I realized that The Knitting in the City series was going to continue, I plotted book 2-7 all at once.

4. As I write *things* will happen… i.e. the characters will disagree with some of my plans or they’ll do something completely unexpected, or they’ll want more scenes/time/care/attention given to a particular issue. I usually go with the flow, let the characters drive the bus. They usually surprise me, at which point I go back and update the plot/character sheet, then look at the other plot/character sheets to determine if anything else needs to change.

Some other points of note:

1. I’ve never taken a class in writing fiction. I know what a protagonist and an antagonist are. Other than that, I have no concept of established theories on how to write fiction… I should probably research this topic at some point…

2. Everything I do, I do because it makes sense to me. All my templates, spreadsheets, flow diagrams, etc. are resources I’ve created from my brain (because I needed them, so I made them). Isn’t that what fiction writers do? They make stuff up? 😉

3. I frequently have “writer’s block”. I ignore it. I just write anyway. This seems to work for me.

4. I have come to the conclusion that there is no “right” way to write. No
magic formula. Nothing that will work for all or most people. But most people’s creative process follows something resembling these (or a combination of these):



Templates I have templates for:

1. Plotting

2. Character sheet

3. BETA reader form

I am sure there are much better forms/templates/resources for these kinds of tools. But I’m a big fan of simplicity. Personally, I don’t need anything more than these basic tools, therefore why would I use something over-engineered, made to meet more than my needs? I wouldn’t.

Basic Plot Sheet

Character Sheet


BETA reader form

I hope this helps… someone.

Best, Penny