Six revisions after pansting my first novel attempt, I converted and became a plotter. And I’m loving that plotting a novel beforehand offers many opportunities for revising ahead as well. Here’s the process I used for my second WIP:
First, I defined the overall goals, stakes, and conflicts for the novel. This portion of the plotting literally took a few minutes.
Second, I drafted a rough outline of the major plot events and character development arc. Since I was working on a historical fiction, a lot of research also accompanied this round. This helped to eliminate some potential plot and character detail flaws before they could become an issue. Even with the research (and working and mothering full time), this pre-writing amounted to just a few weeks.
Third, I used the plot and character rough to detail several things for the chapters: 1) goals, stakes, and conflicts; 2) beginning, middle, and end of scenes; 3) who must be and who might be present in each scene; 4) motivations and emotional responses; and 5) when and where each scene would take place. This step, along with additional research as needed, helped to identify and eliminate additional plot and character problems, and, again, only took a few weeks.
Then I was ready to write.
It’s amazing how much faster this WIP is coming together. Essentially, I am writing the first draft, but writing it like I’m revising the third or fourth draft—without the need to cut darlings that just aren’t working. Writing time has been much more productive, and the story has started stronger. Grant it, some of this is attributable to experience, but overall I believe that the month spent revising through prewriting will eliminate the major post-writing revisions—and heartache—that my pantsed novel—now in its seventh revision—needed.