Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beware of the Plotting Pantser!

Plotters VS. Pantsers

Some people feel very strongly about Pantsers (those who write ‘by the seat of their pants’ and composing the story as it comes to them) and Plotters (those who write a mini novel of synopsis and character pages before they write the actual novel.)

Plotters accuse Pantsers of being meandering writers and of not having tight plots.

Pantsers accuse Plotters of being too predicable and wasting too much time in prep work.

My motto:
You can pay up front or you can pay at the end. But either way, you will pay.

Pantsers must do FAR more editing than your average Plotter. They pay at the end.

Plotters sometimes spend just as much time in prep as they do in writing the actual story. They pay at the beginning.

The real truth of the matter is that sometimes you just throw away the whole darn novel in the end anyways (I realize this might hurt some people’s sensibilities- “I would never throw away my novel!”- I believe in writing a learning novel every now and then. It gets me ready for my masterpiece.) The key is just not to give up. Published books come from Plotters and Pantsers who didn’t give up.

Or I guess you could be a Plotting Pantser (someone who schemes to pull down someone's trousers when they least expect it!)

What are your thoughts?
Want to tell us which one you are?


  1. I write many of my poems as I sit at my laptop,
    As I write about life's experieneces it comes easily. I applaud anyone who can write anything without making notes or pre typing them.

  2. I don't think it matters how you come up with your ideas, only how interesting they are. The biggest issue with stories I critique is that they're too predictable and easy.

    Moody Writing

  3. You know, I'm more of a panster, but...I do write out a paragraph synopsis of my chapters so I stay on the right path. They do, however, deviate from the path, but my plot doesn't suffer. Of course, I do spend the majority of the process in the editing phase.

  4. I find that my characters are rude and will not follow my plot. I've had odd characters show up randomly in my story and I have to ask them who they are and what they are doing in my novel. One time I wrote an entire book with a character and had no idea who she was and what part she played in my story. Nevertheless, I kept writing scenes with her in it. It wasn't until the end of the book that I realized what a key plot component she was. Then all I had to do was go back and tweak her scenes so at the end the reader would go "aha! I thought so!" Those moments are fun.

    So sometimes you may start out as a plotter, but your characters make you become pantsters! Either way, writing is an incredible journey of discovery!
    Thanks for your great post, Shelly

  5. I am a plotter. I don't even know how to be a pantser, because as soon as I have an idea, my mind races ahead to future scenes, characters and possible endings and then I realize how nice that would all look on a chart...

  6. When I first started writing I was a pantser all the way. I've been paying for seven years as I try to re-write and get everything in order. But the one story that I tried to plot out point by point failed even more miserably! My characters wouldn't work with me and I never even finished.

    So now I do a combo of the two. I plot out the main inciting incident, and any big plot points that we need to get to, and then I let the characters run amok and get there in whatever way they chose. They know better than I do how things happen - it's their story after all.

  7. I try to be a plotter, but I just can't do it. It kills my creativity. Even if I try and do more than a skeletal outline I end up scrapping it because my story likes to grow organically.

  8. I LOVE these terms! Too funny. I think I am a hybrid of the two as well. I have a beginning and an ending in mind, and kind of "fly" my way through it...
    But, I think you're right, either way you write, you pay with time. And lots of it!

  9. I'm a plotter when it comes to my stories and I have a thick notebook for each one filled with research, character descriptions and plot layouts. But when I start writing I spew my writing forth at such a rate that I consider myself a pantser, and it takes me FOREVER to edit! Agreed with not giving up though!

  10. I've always been a pantser. When I spend a lot of time plotting, I rarely follow what I'd planned anyway.


  11. I'm a bit of both. I have a plan and repeatedly ignore or change it.

  12. I am a pantser. I tried being a plotter once, but the writing wasn't as fun (and didn't sound as good) so back to pantsing I went.


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