Most authors, both new to the craft and well-seasoned, do some plotting before starting a new story. Some settle for a few points, but for others, their plotting has become so long that it can be a novel in itself. Pantsers are the exception to this rule; they write without any pre-planning. Everyone writes differently and there is no wrong way to write, so all of these methods are valid.
For my first novel, No Way Back: The Underworlds, I wrote with only my mental planning for the story I’d conceptualized over the years… Of course, some pre-planning might have helped, but I was satisfied with the final result. For the sequel, Taken With a Dark Desire, on the other hand, I had some physical notes before I started. They were small, but I believe they contributed to the sequel becoming a finalist for an indie book award. While I can’t be certain the notes alone were responsible for my book’s success, I noticed an improvement in my narrative’s delivery because I had them.
Having said this, the last thing you want to do is to write too much extraneous detail that will likely never make it into the final story. Most plotting should be relevant enough to include in the story, but some detail will inevitably be tossed, which is fine, too. Not all ideas make it into a story; only the best ones that make the most sense for your world, story, and important subplots should be included. I had ideas I discarded, including some I liked. I found that I completely abandoned some ideas I had for my third and fourth books too, despite having a few years of experience with writing stories – and I think it’s for the best.
Primarily for fantasy authors, and it can be extremely helpful to have. This can cover anything from designing a world’s topography to inventing cultures and religions, but because this sort of planning is so complicated, it’s easily overdone. I once heard about a guy with 90 pages of world-building notes, which, unfortunately, never became more than a document of cultures, magic systems, and agriculture notes.
This is where the meat of preparation lies for most writers, and not just those writing high fantasy. Building a good plot and characters can make a story, while the lack of a well-crafted plot can break it. Some writers even go into great detail and plot out every single character’s complete journey over the course of their entire series.
Both of these tend to require big chunks of time, but set solid groundwork if executed properly. However, on the flip side, too much time spent planning can open a Pandora’s box that will never close, so it’s essential to find just the right amount of preplanning that will let you get your ideas down and still allow you to write comfortably. Plotting isn’t for everyone and I’m personally in the middle between a plotter and pantser. It doesn’t matter where you stand on that spectrum; what matters is creating good stories. There is no wrong way to write, only the right way for EACH and EVERY writer.
Dennis Scheel has always had stories running in his head but was unable to tell them until after his accident, which left him mute and paralyzed on his right side. After he worked his way back through recovery, he wanted to try to tell his story once more after an acquaintance told him he was talented at writing poetry. Prior to that, his ex had convinced him not to write for ten years by insisting that he had no aptitude for writing. This time, Dennis tried writing his stories in English for the first time. Finally, he succeeded, and has never stopped writing since. The effort has produced three stellar novels: