The Butterfly Method

I’ve admitted here before that I’m a pantser when it comes to writing. Not only that, but I tend to use what I call the Butterfly Method (it may have another, more official name, but I like butterfly). If you imagine how a butterfly flits around, going from flower to flower and back again, but missing out lots of flowers in between, then you’ll get a good idea of how I work.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea – I do have a rough idea of where things are going and how it’s all going to end up, but I don’t know who all the characters are, or how things are going to fit together in the end.

When I do my first draft I do tend to go in order, as such, but I will leave gaps (sometimes very big gaps) in the plot as I write – scenes that I haven’t yet thought of, as I’m a pantser. I might occasionally flit back and fill something in if I think of it as I go along, but usually that won’t happen until I get to the end and start from the beginning again. This is exactly how I wrote The Saviour Plan.

Of course, the scenes that get written in that first run-through are the ones that really grab me and I’m enthusiastic about. But it’s not just the intervening scenes I have to go back and insert. Often, if I’m writing really fast, a particular scene might end up being a conversation and nothing else. No reaction (other than verbal). No description.

One disadvantage of this method is that I never know how long a piece is going to be, because I will always be adding to it in the second draft, often by a significant amount (doubling the word count would not be unheard of in my writing world). However, it does mean that if I change my mind about the direction a particular chapter should go in, there is less rewriting to do than if I’d written every scene. In fact, the direction could change by simply adding the extra scenes.

Anyway, that’s basically how I write. Do you flit around when you write, or do you have every scene planned out before you start? Or maybe you do something in between?

Whatever you do, I say, “Vive la difference!”


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