Plotting V.S. Mad Improv Skills- Pros and Cons

            I’ve personally done it both ways. And multiple other authors have, as well. I have a couple of observations on the pros and cons for both scenarios, and it’s one person’s observation, so bear with me. But this is what I’ve come up with after trying out both ways with separate WIPs (works in progress) and finished/ published novels.


a.       Can help with writer’s block. If you’re not struggling to think up what happens next, then you just sort of write the story as it’s meant to be written and that takes a lot of stress off of your mind.

b.      It allows you to world build properly. Especially for fantasy authors, mapping out your story with a physical map of fantasy-world geography on paper or certain scenarios can give you a visual image for stuff that goes on inside your head.

c.       It helps with continuity. You won’t have a problem remembering what eye color your character had in chapter three because you already wrote it down.

d.      It keeps you organized and disciplined. If you’re more of the “I need a schedule or I will abuse my freedom and just watch Netflix all day” type, then plotting is the way for you to go.

e.       It can take some of the edge off of writing that first blank page. A new page in any novel is kind of like holding a new baby. You really don’t want to mess it up. But if you’ve already spent a little time studying to write that novel, then writing it may come more easily for you.


a.       It can also cause writer’s block. Writing based on a plot might make some people feel listless and restricted in how they want a story to go. If a character suddenly comes off as shallow to the writer, then you may end up feeling like this story isn’t how you want it to go at all, and you lose the freedom of a dynamic plot. Basically, it restricts you.

b.      Those first draft plot holes might delay you longer than they should. The best thing for any writer to do is to write, but if you’re worried about plot holes before you’ve gotten that first draft written, then anxiety might set in before you finish your novel.

c.       It can turn writing into a chore. If plotting feels too much like a long-past homework assignment, then chances are that plotting is taking away all of your excitement for this new writing project. Writing should be a steady balance of work and play, not just labor.


a.       Huzzah for freedom! You can just let loose every single thought that pops into your head and allow that story to be shaped however you want. Restrictive plotting manacles are out of the picture.

b.      The characters can take over the story and even manage to surprise you. Initially, all writers start writing with a vague idea of where they want that story to go. But once you’ve hit the writing point of no return, the story sort of begins to grow on you. You really learn who your characters are then, what they would do in certain situations, and how natural their internal dialogue becomes.

c.       That blank page can be conquered by an endearing amount of “story vomit”. The story is in your head and then goes directly onto the page. No plotting middleman in between.

d.      The movie might shine through in your head a little bit more easily. Some people prefer to see a story through the first time around. Plotting takes away that element of discovery, of seeing a story for the first time.


a.       Hello Writer’s Block, my old friend. Unfortunately, if you don’t know what happens yet in the story, then a block could set in. Go for a walk. Read a nice book. Don’t let the block get to you!

b.      Continuity errors. Basically, you can forget what color your character’s eyes were, or what you named the bartender in chapter five. Sometimes not writing things down can lead you to becoming confused, and disorganization can take the creative fire out of even the best of people.

c.       You might be less motivated to write over time. Some people find comfort in organization and schedules.


You really have to be comfortable with what sort of creative mind you have before choosing a method. And the only way to discover that is, obviously, by more writing. If you’ve always creatively enjoyed “going with the flow”, then improv is right for you. But if you’re the type of person who books a restaurant five years in advance, then the way of the plotter is calling your name.


Good luck and keep on loving those stories.

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