So, I was at a Book Event recently and someone talked about being a pantser over a plotter. Someone in the audience raised their hand and asked what a plotter and pantser were. This made me realize that not everyone knows what that refers to in terms of writing.
A follow-up question was: Which is better?
My answer: Neither/Both.
So, I thought I’d write a post about Plotters:
So, personally, I’m a mix. But I definitely started out as a pantser, so that will always hold a dear place in my heart.
Part of it is because a pantser is:
Someone who writes by the seat of their pants (thus the phrase). They can finish a first draft very quickly (for example, I used to finish first drafts of 100K words in 3 weeks. I know, that’s ridiculous).
The issue is that these rough drafts are always the worst of the worst. Little thought, lots of emotions and feelings, and probably not the best character development. However, don’t worry, because that’s what revisions are for!
PROS: What I liked about being a pantser was that I wrote with FULL EMOTION! I emoted so hard that my pages were full of the most purple of prose (but that can be fixed in revision, so I didn’t worry about that too much). I also legit FELT for my characters. I fell desperately in love with them.
Also, the good thing is that if it turns out I needed to delete a scene or a character, I wasn’t devastated, because I was still in planning and processing stage. I loved my characters, but I was so in for their organic journey. Scenes weren’t as important as feelings!
CONS: The bad thing is that I was like, “Good I’m done. I wrote a whole book. NEXT!”
So, a pantser has to be a very hard core reviser, because you will end up revising for waaaay longer than you spent writing the original book. (Writing takes a few weeks, Revising takes MONTHS).
I also end up writing a completely different story by the end of the process. Because when I started, I just wrote whatever I thought would be fun next. So it was a lot of the character getting into lots of fights and doing lots of kissing, and nothing else.
So, the plotting came…later. I know this all sounds absolutely insane, but the life of a pantser if exciting and flash and Go go go!
Recently, I’ve tried to become a plotter (and no, that doesn’t mean I’m nefariously plotting to take over the world. I mean…as far as you know):
A plotter could technically be thought of as the more thoughtful writer.
PROS: You KNOW where the story is going. You have an end-goal. You are working toward something and things are well-thought out in general.
Also, you have a guide. So if you’re stuck, no worries, you can jump ahead, write a scene, then back track. (Note: This can happen for pantsers too, it just gets confusing for someone as scattered as me).
CONS: It’s TOO thought out. It’s cold, it’s detached, it’s emotionless. This isn’t true of all plotters. It was just my issue. I wrote an epic space opera. Plotted the bajeesus out of it. And it was the flattest story you’ll ever read. Really, just 2D paper cut out characters that ran around space.
Also, I learned that I had a hard time letting go of scenes. They seemed so integral because I plotted it that way. I had to learn to be more fluid again!
So, I became a HYBRID (also a plantser. also a capri pantser<–heard at aforementioned book event):
Yes, there was a THIRD OPTION. Muahahahaha! Honestly, I believe most writers are this. Like some of them trend toward plotting and some trend toward pantsing. But let’s be honest, sometimes we’re in the groove and we just write. Sometimes, we’re not and we need to outline.
The end game is writing a cohesive MS though. So moral of the story. NONE of this matters.
This post was just a funsies discussion of a writer thing we talk about sometimes. You don’t have to fit any mold as long as you love your story. So, go forth and write. Be freeee! And also, share any comments or notes about pantsing versus plotting below!