An author talk in Kawerau – are you a plotter or a pantser?

Koch Snowflake fractal

I had the honour a few weekends ago of being the inaugural speaker to be invited to speak to Write on Kawerau – the Kawerau writers’ group.

Since discovering and using the Snowflake Method to design my third novel Golden City, this talk has become my signature talk. I’ve now presented it four times.

Bascially, there are 2 types of writers:

  1. Plotters – those who plan out and plot their novel before they start writing
  2. Pantsers: those who write ‘by the seat of their pants’ – i.e., they just start writing and see where it takes them

Neither is right or wrong. They’re just different. I wasted quite a lot of time and effort ‘pantsing’ my first two books, Medar and Tyrelia, so I figured I had nothing to lose by giving plotting a go. Now I’m a convert to plotting.

But why the snowflake, I hear you ask? Good question. The way you draw a snowflake mirrors the way you can design a story. Check out the ‘snowflake’ link above, which explains how you can draw a snowflake by starting with a triangle, then drawing another triangle upside down on top. Then you can build out the points by superimposing smaller triangles on top, then you do smaller and smaller triangles on each of the points.

You plot in the same way: start with the big picture, then flesh out the detail, piece by piece. The method comprises 10 steps, switching back and forth between fleshing out the story and fleshing out the characters, getting more and more detailed each time you circle back to either the plot or character.

The beauty of this method is that you spot the plot holes before you start writing, not after you’ve spent months and months writing maybe 50,000 to 100,000 words. The best part is that steps 8 and 9 involve using a spreadsheet! Hurrah! If anyone knows me well, they know that I LOVE spreadsheets. To be fair, I did use a spreadsheet for my first two books, even though I didn’t use the snowflake method to plot the novels. But having a spreadsheet as part of this method made it a winner for me.

Book 1 Medar – published August 2017. Click here to purchase.

Book 2 Tyrelia – published March 2019. Click here to purchase.

Book 3 Golden City – published November 2020. Click here to purchase.

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