Plotter Vs. Pantser

Hello, hello!  It’s been awhile since I’ve really written something writing related, so I thought I should probably get back to that.  After a long day of errands and asking people what I should blog about, a friend brought up the question of whether I’m a plotter or a pantser.  Basically, do I outline my stories or do I let them grow organically.  I’m sure I’ve at least glanced over this at some point in the past two years (I’ve kept a blog going for two years???  Who’d’ve thunk it?), but I decided to take a minute to dig deeper into this seeming dichotomy.

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From So You WriteI still don’t know all the abbreviations, so don’t feel bad.

First, let’s take a look at plotters.  These are the people who get a story idea, then spend hours or days or weeks or longer plotting out all of the details and creating outlines and character bios and the like (and even charts or graphs for the hardcore plotters).  Some of them plan every little thing ahead of time.  Others write out the broad strokes (major plot points and characters and all of that) but leave connecting the dots until the actual writing process.  This works really well for some people, but it’s not the only way to write.

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Just one example of plotting, courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

On the other hand, you have pantsers.  These are the people who get a story idea and just go with it.  Characters and adventures come and go organically as the story unfolds on the page.  Many of them have no notes beyond the story itself.  Some take notes as they go, so they don’t have to keep scrolling through their story to remember what someone was wearing or whatever.  Others plot things out in their head as they go, but allow the story to ultimately dictate what happens.  They aren’t afraid of getting sidetracked by a character who refuses to do what was planned.  In other words, they fly by the seat of their pants.

As different as these two things are, I think they’re more two ends of a spectrum than separate identities.  I certainly know people who are strict plotters and others who refuse to even attempt the restrictions of planning things out, but I prefer taking the middle ground.  I fully admit that I have more pantser tendencies than not.  I’ve always had trouble creating (and adhering to) outlines.  All of my stories start organically and I prefer to let them unfold on their own, but I do get stuck sometimes when I do it that way.  That’s when I switch to plotter mode.  I write a rant (I literally whine and complain and generally grump during this whole process) to myself figuring out where I want the story to go, then once I get back on track, I switch back to pantser mode.  There’s no shame in swinging both ways.

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How most pantsers feel when dealing with unruly characters.

There’s no one right way to be a writer.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a Liar McLiarson, so don’t listen to them.  Don’t be afraid to try plotting if you’re a pantser.  It can really help things flow better when you’re stuck.  Also, try flying by the seat of your pants occasionally if you’re a plotter.  It can be freeing and new, exciting things could happen.

What are your thoughts on plotters vs. pantsers?  Which one are you?  Or do you dabble in both?  As always, leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

Until next week!

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