Among writers, the joke is that there is only one rule on how to write: there is no rule. There is however, two tried and true methods that writers employ to create their work. These methods are called pantsing and plotting.
Pantsing is when a writer will sit down to write and let their characters dictate where the story goes. Plotting is when a writer will construct an outline before creating the actual story. As there is with everything in life, there are pros and cons to both.
- Pro: I find pantsing to be useful, especially when writing the first draft. It allows me to just create my story without feeling boxed in.
- Con: It can feel constrained. Ask any writer and they will tell you that the first draft and the final draft can completely different. If a writer is wed to their outline, they may not be open to making changes needed to improve their work.
- Pro: Outlines can be changed. They are not written in stone. For some writers, plotting allows them to focus on filling in the details.
- Con: The problem with plotting is that it is the skeleton of the story. The writer(s) are still responsible for bringing the characters and the narrative to life.
My approach to writing is that of a panster. However, I can see the value in plotting, which can come in handy when editing your work.
Now, the question is, which is better? That answer is every writer must make up their own mind. It is a subjective response that is dependent on the writer and their perspective.