I have been asked a lot about this and I’ve also read a lot of authors discuss their own preference.
To clarify, a plotter is someone who plots the whole book – twists and turns, arcs and all that. Pantsers basically figure things out as they go along. There are many advantages to both ways and it is really up to you what you choose. Personally, I have tried both.
My first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was pantsing all the way. I never plotted the end, never thought of the twists, never thought of the arc even though I already knew it was going to be more than one book. That was quite a risk for me because if you don’t plan a series, there is a risk you will miss some things. But that was how it ended up and so I went with the flow. It was my first novel too so I wasn’t familiar about the best plotting technique.
Book two was a different matter. I plotted it two years before the first book was even released. I knew the start, the middle and the end. But it did not work out that way. When I started writing book two, I followed through with the first half of the plotting. But then there came a point when my character changed, new characters were introduced and the events escalated.
It wasn’t a deliberate thing for me to do. It just kind of happened. I had time to think about the book for two whole years and in that time, I wrote down notes on changes I wanted to make. I kept a lot of things from the plot I wrote but the second half of book two was very different from how I initially imagined it.
For one, I decided to make it a duology instead of a trilogy. Yes it is a longer book from the first one but I realised there was no point stretching it to a trilogy. I listened to one lecture about writing YA novels and they said only do a trilogy if it is indeed a trilogy. But don’t do it if you’re just doing it to have a trilogy. Good point.
But I digress.
I have three other manuscripts that I’m editing aside from book two of The Girl Between Two Worlds. I was panstying in two of those books and plotted the third one. The one I plotted was for Nanowrimo – my first ever attempt. It helped me prepare for the grueling writing month and avoid writer’s block.
Still, I don’t have a favourite. Both worked for me. I just follow whatever feels right in that project. The lesson here is you don’t have to do it the way others do it. Try both and see what works well for you.