To continue the discussion on plotting vs. pantsing a fiction novel, please welcome author, Talli Roland!
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter!
Why do you prefer one to the other?
I prefer plotting because I need certain turning points to write towards. If I don’t have a clear sense how the character grows and develops, I can waffle on forever!
Can you describe your outlining process?
Before I start writing, I always ask myself what my character wants, and why they want it. Then, I decide who or what will stand in their way, and how the main character’s motivation will change over the course of the novel. Along the way, I develop three main turning points – situations that will test the character and help them grow.
What is the benefit of outlining your plot?
For me, the benefit is knowing what I’m writing towards. Eighty-thousand words are a lot to get down when you don’t have firm focal points.
Can writers be both a plotter and a pantser?
I think so! I don’t obsessively plot chapter by chapter, so I suppose on a small scale, I’m a pantser. Plus, I think you need to be prepared to let new characters in or explore different angles than you might have originally considered.
Do you consider yourself a Linear or Non-linear writer? And why?
Definitely linear. It’s just how my mind works!
What do you consider a downside of plot outlining?
If you plot too rigidly, you can miss out on some of the wonderful ideas and characters that come when you’re writing the first draft.
Do you do some “pantsing” for certain scenes and “plot” outlines for others?
I rarely plot individual scenes. I’ll have an idea where I want the character to be by the end of the scene, and I let that guide me.
How much time and research do you do while outlining, before you start the actual writing of the novel?
I do enough research so that it doesn’t impede the actual writing… so I know enough about the setting, for example, that I don’t need to stop and look up things. I’ll go back and fill in details and do additional research before diving into revisions.
Do you fill out character Bios/interviews for your main characters before writing their story?
I used to, but then I found I didn’t really use them and what I’d originally developed didn’t suit the character at all! Now, I try to understand the main character’s motivation and let it develop naturally from there.
What is one writing book that you highly recommend?
I’d recommend Stephen King’s On Writing.
Where during the writing process do you find your “voice” for that particular novel's main character(s)?
I find the voice usually develops as I write the first draft, but I already have some idea of their character before plunging in.
While you might start with an issue or theme in mind, themes will also develop or emerge as you write, so how important do you think “theme” is to your writing process?
I usually have a theme – something I want the character to learn and embrace by the end. That theme might change slightly over the course of the writing, but I find I need to have an over-arching issue in mind.
In your opinion, does every story need a fleshed out character ARC?
I don’t know about every story, but my stories certainly do. I need a clear roadmap of how the characters will develop.
Last question: do you think most endings should elucidate any lingering unanswered questions, or can they be left ambiguous without much clarification or resolution?
I think an author should do whatever feels right to them, for the story and the readers!
Fun Bonus Questions
What book are you currently reading?
Left Bank by Kate Muir.
What’s your favorite movie or TV show?
Love Actually. I adore this film!
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Caffeinated. Determined. Impatient.
Laptop or desktop?
Who is your fictional character crush? (Movie, TV show, literary)
It’s got to be Mr Darcy (Colin Firth!)
Where can we stalk you online?
Official Website: www.talliroland.com
Talli Roland writes fun, romantic fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories – complete with happy endings. Twice shortlisted for the UK’s Festival of Romance, Talli's novels have also been chosen as Amazon Customer Favourites and top books of the year by industry review websites. She’s a bestseller in Britain and the United States. To learn more about Talli, visit her Amazon author page, go to her website, follow her on Twitter, or check out her blog.