Writing a Series – Panster or Plotter

Fable200This is a guest post by Lisa Fender, the author of The Lorn Prophecy series and The Djenrye Chronicles.

Lisa Fender is a stay at home writer and ex aesthetician and ex restaurant worker. She is literally the waitress that wanted to write a book. Because of the wonderful and loving support of her husband, Rick, she gets to be home fulltime.

Besides writing, Lisa loves hiking in the Rocky Mountains near her home, loves dogs, and spends a lot of time with her family, including her two bright, and lovely grandchildren.

To read more about Lisa Fender, please visit her on either:




Lisa Fender


From the very beginning I knew that I would write a series. Why? Because I love reading them. I don’t want the story to end – ever.

Since I was new to the writing world, at least the “writing a book” writing world, I had no idea how to begin this long process and, not to mention, what my story would be about. I sat myself down and wrote a list of types of stories I would consider and the types I didn’t.

Once my decision was made, I then created a list of the main/secondary characters. And I knew how the book(s) would end.

So, to sum it up, I had my basic story line, strongest characters and the ending. Now it was time to plot. And sub-plot.

And once the first book was published I found several mistakes which would not have happened if I would have kept track of the smallest of details.

Writing by the “seat of your pants” or a panster as we writers tend to call it, will only cause mistakes along the way. It can be as simple as the color of the car your character drives and, if you don’t catch it, your readers will. It can also affect your character’s personality or past. To stay consistent throughout your series will show you as a professional writer, and one who is organized. Your story will be cleaner and tighter and your readers will appreciate that.

My organization begins with lists and poster boards. Yes, poster boards. I like to be able to see my whole book right in front of me. I use them to scan the story line, the action, and to make sure the story is going in the right direction. I list the important aspects of each chapter and separate them by chapter. Then I put them on my office wall.

There are people who like using graphs, and I tried that, but I found I rarely went back to them. When I would remember to do so, the chapter would already be written, and I would have to do major revisions. So, for me, having the entire book on the wall helped me to be a better plotter.

And you can have fun with it. I will use different colored markers – maybe one character will be assigned the pink one or blue. Or each chapter will have a different color – whatever works for you.

Another thing I use is an erase board. Yes, another board. On this one I write ideas, you know, the ones that you think of in the middle of the night, or your critique partner suggests that you really liked. And after I am finished writing the book, I refer back to this board to see what I used or what I would still like to put in the story.

Then I erase the board and use it to list what I want to double check on and, or have implemented into the book. Maybe while I’ve been reading through the manuscript I feel one of my characters needs to be more involved, or I was not consistent in a character’s quirk. Usually I end up with a twenty or so point list and then go through and make the changes I deem necessary.

One more suggestion is have a great team. I rely on my wonderful critique partners, and I do have two, and my fantastic editor. These people are one of, if not the most, important piece of my writing a series.

Writing a series is not an easy task. Even writing one book is tough. But if you’re organized and use a process that works for you it helps to quell a lot of anxiety.

So just to reiterate:

1.Decide what your story will be about.

2. List your main/secondary characters and their flaws and attributes. Also their positions in the story – like best friend, boyfriend, ect…

3. Know the basis of your ending.

4. Keep track of the smallest of details, such as color/make of a vehicle.

5. Use poster boards or a graph to plot and control action with your scenes.

6. Keep a list of ideas and sub-plots along the way and refer to them often.

7. After book is written – list the things you’ve caught along the way and would either like to change or implement.

8. Have a great team – people you can rely on and trust.

9. And one more thing – have fun! If it’s not fun, then you’re probably not plotting, but writing by the seat of your pants.

 The last thing you want to do is write yourself into a corner. Keep track of everything and your story will come into fruition a lot faster and a much more enjoyable for your readers.

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