This is number ten in the list, “15 Success Habits of Professional Authors and Writers” by Tom Corson-Knowles. I bet a lot of novelists will find fault with this one! There is a group of staunch supporters of the “pantser” variety, that profess to write by the seat of their pants without any planning or outlining whatsoever. I believe, that whether you are a pantser or a plotter (the opposite of pantsers), you must still have a plan.
I don’t believe that anyone can just sit down at a computer, open a blank document, and type away, producing a professional, best-selling novel. That isn’t how it works. I have read a lot of self-published novels on my Kindle, though, that actually read like this is what the author did. The plots ramble all over the place. The story is sometimes repetitious, yet sometimes jumping from one scene to another without the smooth flow one comes to expect from a well-written novel. Many self-published novels could be greatly improved if the authors had taken the time to do a final edit, or some rewriting, to tighten their plot, develop their scenes, and build stronger characters.
Planning doesn’t have to mean the same thing for everyone. Some writers will only need to plan in their heads what they are going to write, and then let it develop on the page. These writers often have to spend more time in the rewriting stage, because their plots are not as well-crafted as the author who creates a solid plot outline before he begins to write. But maybe their stories are freer, more imaginative, to make up for it.
Some writers will create tight plot outlines, detailed character sketches, and take copious research notes before they begin to write. Then, with all that planning behind them, they are able to crank out 2,000 to 10,000 words a day!
These are the two extremes – the minimal planner and the detailed planner. Most of us fit somewhere in between. The point is not how you plan, only that you do create a plan. Your writing will be more professional if you do.