Pros and Cons of Plotting

I was going to write a post that didn't involve a list. But then I thought: no.

I'm a scientist, right? Scientists like order and organisation and lists (and also chocolate. Or as we like to say, in Latin, theobroma cacao).

So! A list it will be. But I'll present two to you this time (if that's okay with you. I don't want to force you to do anything, you know).


Like Loki's mood swings, there are many kinds of writers. Usually (but not always) writers are "plotters" or "non-plotters". The latter means basically, they wing it. (Sometimes it's called "pantsting", as in writing-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.) A lot of writers try plotting and they try pansting. But which is better?

The short answer: whatever works best for YOU.

The long answer: have you considered the pros and cons of plotting versus not-plotting?


1. Less road blocks. (Sometimes it's easier to write when you know where you're going.)
2. Less rewriting. (You might pull off a cleaner draft because you spent less time chasing plot bunnies.)
3. Plot twists. (You can add these awesome suckers in earlier, because you know where you're going with it.)
4. Less cliche. (You wrote out the cliche plot option, but then spent time thinking about it and wrote out something better.)
5. Less time staring at a blank screen. (Your outline says where to go next, so off you go.)


1. Less running with wild inspiration. (Since you've decided on the ending you want, you can't chase the tantalising plot bunnies. If you had chased them, maybe you would have ended up with something really awesome.)
2. It can sound robotic. (You know you need to get from A to B, so you go there. No detours. No experimenting for fun.)
3. It can be boring. (Since you know what happens and all...)
4. It can rob some of the wow factors for YOU from your writing process. (We writers like to be entertained, and who better to entertain us then ourselves?)
5. It's time-consuming. (You can spend hours plotting, only to throw it out when you write because the plot took an unexpected twist and you went with it. I once wrote a 10K outline. Even for me, Doctor Research, that's kind of overboard.)

Of course, this all depends on whether a) you stick firmly to your outline, and b) what kind of person you are. Some people feel liberated by outlines. Some feel trapped, like Loki in his glass prison.

At the end of the day, you should plot if you like plotting and it works for you. You should also maybe not plot if you don't like plotting and it doesn't work for you. Make sense? Good.

If you need me, I'll be eating theobroma cacao while running around outback Australia. (Code for: I'm actually absentee at the moment, but I've scheduled this post so you don't miss any smashing Hulkish-ness. This time-bomb has gone walkabout.)

This is me trying to be as cool as Thor. And failing. Maybe I should stick to my test-tubes and science books?

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