In the past I’ve talked about Plotting vs. Pantsing as the method of writing you (or I) may do. Simply put a Plotter has a plan and knows their entire story before they ever begin to write the first draft; a Pantser simply begins writing with a (sometimes) vague story idea and characters. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. In the end, your method is entirely up to you and is your own personal choice, typically made by what works best for you. And sometimes you may even be a little bit of both.
Personally I’ve gone both ways. I’ve sat down and written entire short stories without ever having any idea what was going to end up on the paper.
I’ve begun large writing projects with little more than ideas derived from a song or based on a dream.
Other times I’ve dreamed the entire story in specific, explicit detail from beginning to end, written a synopsis to get the basics of the story line down on paper and done more extraneous work (timelines, character descriptions, setting info) to get all the story details out of my head and written down.
Most of the time I would classify myself somewhat sarcastically as a Plotting-Panster or a Pantsing-Plotter. Not because I don’t write with a plan but because the plan will often develop as I write.
One thing that becomes common with all my (longer) writing projects through the process is the development of what I like to call my Book Bible, which in effect contains everything I could ever possibly need to know about my story. It includes a synopsis (to varying degrees of detail), character treatments and profiles, details and a history of settings, complete timelines for the story, including past events that shaped characters or may impact the story, ‘current’ events that take place, and even future important events that relate specifically to the characters; just in case I choose to continue the story with a sequel, develop secondary characters for a continuing series, or connect the book to another (separate) story.
The Book Bible allows me to find details quickly when I need them and helps to eliminate some of those pesky detail or continuity errors that one may find during the editing phase of a project.
I’ve known authors who complete a project with nothing more on paper (on or off the computer) then their finished work. I’ve known others who have only some crossover details written out – for characters, details, or parts of stories that occur in multiple projects. And I know others like myself who have their Book Bibles and place them with pride on the shelves in their office or home.
So to all the writers out there, I ask: What about You?