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  • Kristen Alicia

Pantser to Plotter- A Journey

Hi, my name is Kristen, and I’m the very definition of a pantser. I had no idea what this term meant until a few months ago when it popped up on my IG feed, with someone asking the ever-popular, are you a plotter or a pantser. My writing community is small. Like teeny tiny. Like, I only personally know one other writer and she writes plays BUT I’m trying to grow my community, especially within the romance world. As such, my knowledge of writing habits is

mostly limited to my own and the things I discover as I start delving more into the broader writing community. I always wondered how so many of these amazing authors write books so quickly when it took me a couple of years to write my debut, You’ve Been Served. Not because I didn’t want to write it, I really did. And I loved writing it. The problem was that sometimes my characters would take me deep into tangents that I would eventually have to sideline for plots and ideas that *actually* made sense within the story. So yeah, everything took me kind of a long time.

Fast forward to You’ve Been Served being edited and edited again and edited again, and then being finished! Hurray, now onto book two! I had a really good sense of what I wanted to include in my second book. I knew for sure I wanted it to be about Tiffany. I love Tiffany. She’s a queen who unapologetically walks to the beat of her own drum and I couldn’t wait to write her happily ever after. She deserves one just as much as Simone. The complication was that I didn’t know what her happily ever after entailed, and my agent told me that in order to submit my book to my publisher, I would need to abandon my pantser ways and embrace being a plotter. I’m not naturally a planner for anything. Books, my day, what to eat for dinner…none of it so I had to figure out a way to plot this next book out in a way that would work for my ‘toss it in the air and see what happens’ ways.

As one does when they’re stuck, I turned to the internet and the #writingcommunity to see what other folks were doing and the range was broad. Some people journal their hearts out with diagrams and outlines and graphs. I’ve tried that and my house is littered with journals half-filled with ideas, to-do lists, notes from work calls, and phone numbers. I love journals and this would work for me except it would require using one journal at a time. So, no plotting in journals. I tried Scrivener which I totally respect as a tool, but I don’t have the patience to learn another program. Next was Plottr. It seemed like a really good option but I wanted to test it out before I committed but when I signed up for the test program, it didn’t work for me. My sweet husband offered to play with it and show me how it worked but there were other options I was more than willing to explore which led me to Novel Factory.

Novel Factory offered a 30-day free trial which I started using immediately and kind of love.

It is easy to navigate and provides a lot of guidance for those plotting novices like me. The thing I especially love is the help it offers in tracking characters and character traits. Tiffany’s book is going to have a fair number of players in the book and I want to make sure I can keep them all accurate. Also, as someone who is a very visual person, being able to see everything laid out in one place has been extremely useful for me. They offer a number of outlining templates that I’ve been using and enjoying as well. Currently, my only beef with Novel Factory is that now that the subscription is over, I HAVE to buy it to be able to access the work I’ve already done. That’s fine because I was going to do that anyway, but I’d like the option to download the work I’ve already done.

Anyway, all of that is a long way to saying I’m working on a new book I’m super excited about AND I’m learning to outline in the process. Yay!

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