What Happens After That Great Idea Flashes in Your Head? Writing Tips Tuesday on Thursday

You finally have that great idea. A novel is forming in your head. You are ready. Ready to sit down and write. Ready to let your idea shine. Ready to share your story with the world.

Now what?

Good question.

The now what looks different for everyone.

First you need to ask yourself what kind of writer you are. Are you a pantser? You put your butt in your chair and type away, oblivious as to what will happen next.

Or are you a planner? Charts and graphs and character sketches are more your style.

I am on my fifth rewrite of a book I started a year ago. Not my first book, but the one I hope to finally sell. Here’s what I’ve learned. No matter what your writing style, panster or planner, you need to be willing to slide a little both ways. Remember, both ways is good. Too much on one side, not so much.


Hey Pansters! Without some kind of plan, you will have no plot. Or your plot will need to be tightened, tightened, tightened. Like my plot. Save yourself some work and at least draw some pictures on a piece of paper and label them with events. Story arcs are fun. Index cards or Post-it notes with different colored markers are pretty.

Pay attention Planners. Without some kind of flexibility, you characters won’t be able to talk to you. Sometimes they have better ideas about the journey they need to take then you do. Don’t lock yourself in a box and stifle your creativity. Listen to your “people” when they poke holes in your perfectly-thought-out plot.

Finally, for those of you who haven’t written anything–don’t start with a novel. Writing well is hard. Good writing takes time and effort and energy. Pick a shorter project and hone your writing craft. Sharpen your skills on articles and short stories. Those kind of pieces are easy to tweak and edit because they aren’t 90,000 words. Trust me on this. This was one thing I did right.

Happy writing and I’d love to hear your comments!




  1. I am a semi-reformed pantser. I love panting, but I know structure will greatly benefit my writing (and lessen revisions). I’ve been reading books on outlining and story structure and am starting to get the hang of being a better planner. I’ll be doing Nanowrimo, so we’ll see how it works out!


  2. Every year I plan to join in the NaNoWriMo and every year life happens. This year, I’m not going to plan it so that it WILL happen. ;o)

  3. You are an exceptionally wise woman.

  4. I use to be a pantster, but just recently I’m experimenting and trying to be a planner.

    This is my 3rd year of Nano….good luck Lori :)


  5. Great information here. Take Lori’s advice. You’ll be glad that you did.

  6. Such great advice, Lori! I totally pantsed my first novel and then rewrote it more times than I can count because it needed more structure. I’ve added more plotting to my process, and it has helped me in novels I’ve written since then. Sometimes pantsers worry that they’ll leave creativity and flexibility behind once they plot things out, but I’ve found that you still have plenty of elbow room with a solid framework.

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