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I am a young author writing a fantasy series. When I first started writing, I had nothing more then a sentence of an idea, but I went along with it and just wrote what came into my head. I never really “planed” anything. I didn’t sit down at my desk and write down all my ideas, decide the best ones, and cleverly craft them together. I just wrote.

Now I am almost done with the first book. I have established my world, cast of MCs, antagonist, protagonist, rules, all that stuff. I have figured out how the first book is going to end, and I have faint ideas of what the next ones are going to be about. But I haven’t really “planned” anything.

My opinion on the subject is this:

My characters don’t know what’s going to happen. In real life, no one knows what’s going to happen. So why should I? I am simply narrating these events as they happen, not causing them.

I crafted my first book this way, and it turned out better then I could have ever imagined. I just kind of went, “oh, this would be a nice time to add in another character. Oh, she and the MC are getting really close, it looks like they’re going to be best friends. Huh. They did turn out to be best friends. I guess that makes this character a MC. She doesn’t know a lot of complicated words, I wonder why. Huh. She ran away as a child. That’s interesting.”

That’s pretty much how I write. And it’s been working amazing for me so far.

Is this the wrong way to go about writing, do I need more planning? Or is this just a kind of writing? I’m not really sure, all I know is I’m definitely going to surprise my readers if even I don’t know what happens next.

So my questions are basically:

What kind of writing is this?

Is it wrong?

Do I need to plan things out more?

Is there a better way to do this?

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  • Your characters don't need to know what's coming. As you noted, people don't know what's coming in real life. As an author, you should know what life is going to throw in your characters' way. Your characters have to deal with it, just like real people have to deal with whatever life throws their way. A novel whose author doesn't know where it's going is a train wreck - random events with no goal and no point. – JRE Nov 2 '20 at 13:56
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To answer your questions quickly; Not sure if there's a certain term, it's perfectly fine, if you want a complicated series then yes, depends on what you want.

In more detail;

Not sure if there's a certain term or something for this type of writing but it's what I do and it's been fine so far. Maybe spontaneous writing? Improvised writing?

I certainly don't see anything wrong with this unless you decide to make a very complicated series where everything interlocks nicely. The Marvel Cinematic Universe does a good job of this, but they had comics to go off of as a starting point.

Again, if you want a very intricate world then you need to plan out more. In most cases, you can probably hand-wave it or find an alternative if you realize that somebody did something they shouldn't have been able to. Keep track of who does what just in case, that way you can reference it later quickly if you need to instead of skimming through half your book to find something somebody said. Just keep a general outline of the book in your head, plenty of wiggle room if something needs to change.

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    The people who write as they go with only a main idea in mind are called Pantsers. Pantsers sort of let the writing events come to them. Their opposite is Planners. Planners plan every event out and make everything intentional. – Sister Student Nov 2 '20 at 2:51
  • The term "pantsers" comes from the expression "fly by the seat of your pants." That means you do it by feel (how your bottom is pressed into the seat by the manuevering) rather than by conscious thought. – JRE Nov 2 '20 at 13:53

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