author, creative writing, writing

The Pros and Cons of Plotting

Good morning writers, hope you’ve had a wonderful week.

My writing has been going well. I am on track with NaNoWriMo, and I think it’s because I plotted my story this time. It’s worked really well for me, although I know it’s not for everybody. That’s why I thought that this week I’d speak about the pros and cons of plotting your novel.


1. It helps you avoid writer’s block
Having a clear idea of where your story is heading can help you avoid writer’s block. Because when your ideas/inspiration starts faltering it can be really hard to get back into the swing of it. Plotting helps to keep you on track, and you’ll always have an idea of what to write next.

2. It can help you to foreshadow
Plotting enables you to plant seeds of foreshadowing. When you outline your novel before you start writing you should have an idea of how it will end, and any twists along the way. This way you can add hints and clues throughout, which will make for satisfying reveals and clever endings.

3. You’ll finish the first draft sooner
The main reason it took me so long to finish the first draft of my first novel was that I had to keep stopping to work out what came next. I often had to spend large chunks of time figuring out plot holes and deciding where to take the story. Having a clear plot means I am able to just write and write, until the draft is done.

4. It can help you spot plot holes
Plot holes are tricky to spot and trickier to fix. You’ll often need to re-arrange several aspects of the story to get it back on track. Outlining the full story before writing gives you a clear view of the plot, which gives you the opportunity to find problems before they arise.
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1. Your story may become too rigid
When you have a plot it’s easy to feel as though you have to stick to it religiously. Doing so can make your story too rigid and formatted, which can leave it feeling clunky and unnatural.

2. You might spend more time planning than writing
It’s easy to get engrossed in your plotting, and this can leave you nervous to start the actual process of writing. When this happens you spend so much time plotting that you keep putting off getting started with the first draft. Sometimes you have to just take the plunge, and get the words down.

3. It might halt your creativity
Following an outline can keep you from allowing your creative mind to wander and explore the story. You’ll spend too much time focusing on keeping to your plot, when you should really be letting your inspiration take control, and writing whatever sparks in your mind.

4. You may struggle to meet word count targets
With a plot you may find yourself writing concise chapters. Because you have a clear idea of what needs to go in each chapter, you get the words down to match that without letting your fluid creativity bulk out the words.

There is no hard and fast rule to writing. You need to do what works for you. I have plotted this time round, and it’s working for me for all the reasons mentioned in the ‘pros’ list. However, I’ve kept the plot fairly lose, which gives me the freedom to add plot points, switch chapters around or completely divert of course. Write what you want to write, in the way the feels right for you. 

Do you plot? Or are you a pantser? What’s your preference?
I’d love to hear your thoughts so do share them in the comments below!

Until then,
Keep writing,

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43 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Plotting”

  1. Personally, I enjoy the freedom of letting my thoughts wander. How I approach writing is to have a rough idea of where I want the story to go but let the story guide me instead of preparing the details. I believe that if I tried to plot it ahead, it’d just move the issues one stage earlier – I doubt I’d be able to avoid writer’s block. The difference would be I’d be stuck in a different phase. I realized I need to see the story unfold to realize how it wants to go on. Plus, drafting the story is something that allows me to observe how it changed and – hopefully – how I am improving. Sometimes, it gives me ideas for the backstory, sometimes I find a way to make a sidekick shine more.


    1. I agree, Tomas. I know where I want the story to end up, and in general, how it’s going to get there, but I’m often surprised at the things that happen, and what my characters do. I’k hate to lose that. I reckon that if I’m surprised, then my readers will be, too.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So true! No matter how much you plan you should always let your characters/story make the decisions. And it’s so satisfying as a writer when something surprises you! Keeps the excitement alive x


    1. Agree! I have found it had worked wonders for me on this project, being able to sit down and go “okay, so I need to write this scene.” Even if it’s forced and comes out flat, it still moves me forward and gives me words to edit later. 😀 x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, M. I think you’re spot on with both your pros and cons. I’m a pantser. The only time I ever really worked off a plot was when I was ready to write the fourth book of my series. Because I’d already written the rough drafts of the first three, I knew exactly what needed to happen in the fourth, and it only took me six weeks to get the first draft down. Because of that, I understand why planning can be such a draw for writers. So happy to hear your NaNo project is going well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So interesting. I noticed with your points the ‘cons’ were all things that ‘might’ happen whereas the pro’s were more certain things. As a pantser who does vague outlining, some of my favourite foreshadowing has been pantsed, where something happens and I think, wouldn’t it be cool if that lead to that. So though I agree generally with every point, and do a bit of both for many of those reasons, I think even the pros are not clear cut.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, lovely! I hadn’t noticed that, but it’s a valid point. Perhaps that’s my personal success with plotting shining through. And you are completely right about the pros too. Thank you for commenting! x


  4. Personally, if I don’t plot then the text starts to ‘drift’ and is hard to reign in without a lot of unpicking. However, the plotting is not that detailed – a chapter by chapter outline that usually gets changed during drafting in any case—and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee against plot holes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I approach it organically and move toward what is working. If I get stuck, I start planning. If things are flowing, I keep going. I do think that those who consider themselves “pantsers” may do more internal plotting than they realize. Just because you don’t make an outline doesn’t mean you aren’t planning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad your writing is going well! 🙂 I loved how you laid out both the pros and cons of plotting. I’m a pretty hard-core plotter, but I almost always find that my really extensive outline gets messed up when I actually start writing. I think that’s a pretty big con, but I usually just re-adjust and keep drafting! Thanks for sharing all these, and I hope NaNo continues to go well for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Madeline 😀 I hope things are good for you too. I can so relate, already I have had to reshuffle several chapters in my original outline, because the story has taken it’s own turn.
      We all get there in the end though ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I always start with plotting. It’s like a map to my destination, which is the end of a novel. I try to plot as many scenes as possible so that I know it makes sense when I write from point a to b to c, etc. I am aware of how rigid that may sound, but I keep it flexible because like any trip, sometimes I discover something I didn’t even know existed. I stop and explore. Sometimes, a stop I really wanted to make turns into a dud and that’s okay too. These moments are when pantsing comes in. Life isn’t a straight and narrow road and neither is storytelling.

    Liked by 1 person

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