Thursday’s Thoughts on Writing ~ Pantsers vs. Plotters

When I start writing a piece of fiction, whether a short story or a novel, I’ll jot down a couple of things I’d like to include, maybe where I’d like to see a character or the journey end up, maybe just a character I’d like to work with, sometimes as little as a sentence I’d like to include, and start from there. Strangely, I tend to do a little more preparation for a short story than a novel. After all, in a short story, you have a finite amount of words in which to develop a complete plot. Image result for pantsers vs plotters

I am what you call a Pantser.

Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants, going wherever the story takes them. This is in contrast to a Plotter, who will carefully develop their plot and timeline before beginning the story. Plotters have a much easier time writing a synopsis, as most of the work has already been done. Pantsers, in my opinion, have more fun. One has only to look at the number of memes already developed for this duel to know that this is an age old debate not likely to be settled. Image result for pantsers vs plotters

The truth is, I only want to write books that I would also want to read, and the books I absolutely LOVE reading are the ones that have twists and turns that completely take me by surprise. I’m sure there’s many a Plotter who plot fantastic twists and turns, but I don’t have enough time or energy for that. I figure that if I don’t know what’s going to happen, then there’s a better chance the reader won’t either.

Image result for pantsers vs plottersThat’s not to say that I don’t put any planning into what I write. I have a white board on which I write my suggestions for the next few chapters, and any ideas that come while I’m writing that I’m afraid I’ll forget. However, a white board can be easily erased – therefore, nothing I write on it is ‘in stone’, but rather points I may or may not touch upon, much like a speaker who uses only bullet points to develop their entire lecture.

Image result for pantsers vs plottersImagine my sheer delight when, 50,000 words into my WIP, everything’s on track and I have a pretty good idea where it’s headed, who the ‘perp’ is, etc., when out of nowhere, I realize I was wrong. What I’m putting on the page is leading up to an ending other than what I was expecting, something I hadn’t even considered, but which is so absolutely perfect, it left me positively giddy. I’m not arguing that Pantsing is better than Plotting, to each their own, but for me, surprising myself is one of the most rewarding parts of writing.

Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?


13 thoughts on “Thursday’s Thoughts on Writing ~ Pantsers vs. Plotters

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  1. Funny…we talked about this in writing class. As I’m working on my first novel, I’d say I had and idea, and I sort of created an arc after I began writing.

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  2. I’d say I’m somewhere in-between. I can’t face not planning anything at all (even if it is only a paragraph), but having too much planning can sometimes take the joy out of the journey of discovery.

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  3. Pantser for life! Currently heading into my twelfth novel and pantsing is my ride or die. I usually have a page of notes, an outline/major plot points in my head, and then I start writing. It’s much more fun to write as a pantser imo, because not only do you get to write the story, but you get to be surprised by it just as a reader would be – basically, the best of both worlds!!

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  4. I LOVE this! I am a total panther…Which as a person who is over the top Type A, is hysterical. And while I do have it figured out in my head where my novel is going, I never write it down. the only thing I keep track of (and even then it has only been recently since it is a series) are my characters and their relationships.
    I school, I actually hated when we were forced to plot everything in advance. I lost interest in what I was writing. I like to be surprised 🙂 ❤

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    1. I’m a type A too! I won’t even go to the grocery store without a list! But writing (and reading) seem to be my ‘safe’ places to live dangerously and take risks! And if I find what I’m doing boring, how’s someone else going to feel about it?


  5. Mostly a panster. However, in longer works I will often stop half way through and plot out the rest. Also, I often create the entire work in my mind before I write a word. For the most part, I sit down and start writing…

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      1. Yes, plotting Panster sounds about right. Actually, I am 100% panster when I do the prompts her on WP, it’s just for longer works that I start edging towards (what I consider) the dark side.

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