The Preparation Process for Pantsers or Plotters

By Ginger Solomon

I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, aka a Pantser, but we all, plotter and pantser alike need to make a few pre-writing preparations. The problem is what works for one will not necessarily work for another; what one considers necessary another will deem inconsequential. I think during the next month, you, the reader, will benefit from The Writing Crew’s differing ways of tackling research.

I have been blessed with a professional copy of Microsoft Office. In addition  to using Word to write, I use a few other of the programs to prepare and save my research. With my first few manuscripts, I didn’t take advantage of these and have thoroughly learned my lesson. I was recently editing one of those, and went to find something I had referenced and couldn’t. I wound up deleting it.

All that to say: what you see below is what is working for me right now. I may change in the future, and it may not be something that would work for you.

Below is a screenshot from my OneNote file. Bear with me because you’re going to see this same shot several times.

one note 1

I wish it were clearer, but I’ll close in on specific areas as I mention them. One thing to notice is the tool bar is very similar to the tool bar in Word. I liked that. It kept things easier for me to learn and adapt.

one note 2

This picture shows my folders. OneNote allows me to have as many as I would like and I can name them whatever I want. Since this particular manuscript is a historical, I have a calendar folder that includes, well, a calendar. I go online to and create a calendar for the year and months related to my story. I then take that information and use Publisher to create a calendar in which I can type events. It is important to me to keep the days/weeks/months correct, along with the moon phases. 🙂 Most of the folders are self-explanatory. It’s a way to keep important information all in one place, which I had never done before.

One Note 3

one note 4

I’m on the page titled Marteena, thus it’s highlighted white. Above, where there is a large blank space on the left, I had her picture, but because I copied it from the web and do not have permission to share it, I moved it off for the purpose of this blog. I also have her Jung Personality – found here:

Each of my major characters has a page and a picture, along with their personality profile. When I have things I need to remember, I create a page and add information to it.

–> Over here is a list of my current notebooks. Each notebook has similar folders, but none are exact. For the fantasy, which is mostly just something I enjoy writing, I am keeping records of the animals and setting I create.

There is one other Office program I want to mention before I leave you to ponder my efforts at preparation. It’s called Visio. I’m a visual person, so this program allows me to create a layout of a building/city so that I can “see” where my characters live. Here is a screen shot of a floor of one of my castles.

I took the basic floor plan of a real castle and tweaked it to fit my needs. I add stairs, walls, doors, windows, and furniture, as needed.


I hope you found MY process interesting.

In lieu of a prompt today tell us how you prepare to write your stories? Do you use a story board with sticky-notes, or do you use a program to keep it all organized?