Plotting, Pantsing and Plantsing: Finding What Makes You Tick

Why did Polly Plotter cross the road? Because her well-laid plans said to.

Why did Pantser Pete cross the road? Because he felt like it. And heck, life’s short.

Why did Plantser Pat cross the road? Because it felt right, and no cars were coming.

I’ve been using the term ‘plantser’ since I first heart the plotter versus pantser debate in the writer-sphere. Though I’m by nature a pantser, flying free can come with a price. We can write ourselves into a web of unresolvable conflict, in several different directions, or realize on page 299 that the antagonist isn’t who we thought. That’s all fine, if we don’t mind going back to revise our…well, pants off. I learned these lessons while freewheeling my way through draft one. With my second novel, my strategies are a bit different.

First, they exist. My only “strategy” with book one was to write and keep writing. Boy was that ignorance blissful… *sigh* This may work for some of you brilliant folks, but I’ve learned that I need a few guidelines.

Second, I’m outlining—sort of. I can feel you pansters cringing. Well, un-crinkle your face. I outline after writing. I get inspired by writing, so after sitting down to get paragraphs and pages out, I add another chapter or note to my outline. This helps keep perspective of the whole story, as I write it. I also jot down notes and questions to address later. (Should “Fred” be female? Add car chase? etc.)

Third, I’m writing slower, but moving ahead faster. I’m no longer fearful of taking breaks or pausing at a game changer moment if I’m not certain how I want the next bit to go. I take my idea to the gym or to dreamland, where I do some of my best thinking. Rather than aiming to write as much as possible, I’m aiming for higher quality. Some days this means revising the last chapter until I dig it. Others days it means a bunch of chapters at once. I’m pretty sure that the revision process this round will be more like spreading smooth peanut butter than using PB to get gum out of my tangled-up hair.

Fourth, I’m letting myself pants more. After the intense revision process for my first novel—a bit like turning a turnip seed into an igloo then into a turning plant—I though I might turn into a plotter. Well, I tried, and was relieved to learn I’m not. I also learned that I had far too many cooks in my fiction. This time, I’m letting the story evolve and flow until I have a solid, confident draft. Until then, I’m not allowing others’ thoughts or opinions keep my pants from flying.

Last, I have a wicked-smart talk show host angel on my shoulder. Let’s call her Hope-rah. 😉 She continually asks the tough questions—the very questions my agent asked about my first (well, first he read) draft. Does this scene matter? Is so-and-so significant? Can you take this bit further? How is that even possible? Many times, I know the answer. When I don’t, I jot the question down on my outline-in-progress or take a break. And wouldn’t you know, the answers soon come.

The lightbulb moments happen if we let them.

I’d venture to guess that most writers fall somewhere between plotter and pantser. Most plotters I know allow themselves to change their outlines as they go, and fresh ideas to crop up while writing. Many pantsers know the direction they’re headed, and some make mini outlines, a few chapters at a time. Both methods are creative, exciting and challenging. What’s important is finding what works best for us personally.

To Plot, Pants or Plants? 5 Steps Toward Honing Your Style

1. Start with what feels most natural. If you feel most comfortable doodling in a notepad for a while before writing, do it. If sitting down and diving in seems preferable, go for it. You can always shift courses along the way.

2. Experiment. You’ll know pretty quickly whether outlining works for you if you write the outline then have no problem diving in and following it. Ask writer friends what works for them. Check out tips in craft books. Consider online support networks, like ROW80 or Fast Draft. If one sounds intriguing, try it. (Again, you can always stop.)

3. Get enough sleep—and observe what happens to your writing when you don’t. Yeah, sort of out of left field, but here’s the thing. I’ve noticed that I can write articles and blog posts somewhat sleep deprived. But my creativity and sharpness for novel work tanks quickly post-insomnia-fest. We can’t know what methods work for us if our brains aren’t working well period. (The same can be said for healthy eating habits.)

4. Consider the rest of your life. I never wear a watch and love a lack of schedule. If you’re a spontaneous free-wheeler in life, there’s a good chance you’re a pantser regarding the page. (You’ve probably also learned the potential downfalls of freewheeling extreme…;)) If you make and follow to do lists and keep a well-planned calendar, you’re probably more geared toward outlining. There are, of course, exceptions.

5. Give yourself think time. Let your stories and ideas marinate. You probably know yourself better than you realize. Those lightbulbs can flash at any ‘ol time. If one of those flashes suggests a shift from pantser to plotter or vice versa, try shifting.

If we can create entire worlds and adventures in our books, I’m sure we can create writing methods worth keeping. I wish you the best of luck as you hone and savor yours. 😉

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you a plotter, pantser or plantser in between? Have you changed your methods? What strategies work best for you?

**If you’re getting ready to pitch your novel, visit How to Slam Dunk Your 90-Second Pitch, by Debra Eve. I’m honored that she included bits from my experience in her terrific post.

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62 Comments

  1. I’m a total pantster, but once I started using a dry erase marker and my picture window (my friends now lovingly call me “beautiful mind”) I found that loosely plotting gave me more structure. I can still put plot twists in and stay on track.

    Great post!

    Reply
  2. I think most “new” writers do the pantser route, at least once, before “getting religion” and making some prelim plans. I think my first 3 or 4 novels (all BAD by the way) were pantser-style. Then after getting similar feedback on two of them, the next novel I plotted down to the tiniest detail. And it read like it, too. So now I’m sorta-kinda-in-a-way more a plotter but with fringe benefits of the pantser. *s* I get to go off the beaten path now and again, especially when those AHA moments come.

    Reply
  3. Karina

     /  September 3, 2012

    Total plantser. Write that meticulous outline, realize halfway through I’ve gone off message and am making it up page by page, end up at the designated end point like that was the elegant road map all along.

    Reply
  4. Good points, August, especially the sleep one! that one kills me every time.

    I don’t think there really is a pure plotter or pantser. Even pantsers have an idea of where they’re going when they start. Perhaps they start writing when they’re closer to the idea stage than a plotter would, but they still have a little of a plan. Ploters (or at least this one) find their plots and characters often take them in unexpected ways when they sit down to write, like a pantser.

    I’m closer to the plotter end of the spectrum, mainly because I don’t/didn’t want to “waste my effort” writing a lot that I throw away. But I’m forcing myself to write more in an effort to embrace more of the pantser mindset (without losing the plot, ha ha). With that comes the idea that I WILL throw more away, and that bashing in words and throwing them away isn’t a complete waste, it’s a learning process. Bit like Edison finding 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb, the other ways didn’t matter when he finally found out how to do it.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Great points, Nigel. I can think of two authors who extreme plotters. One follows excel charts, and sticks with them to a tee. The other spends months on the outline, which is nearly as long as some people’s books. But I bet you’re right; even they likely recognize the need for outline diversions at some point. In either case, it’s definitely a broad spectrum.

      I bet participating in Fast Draft helps you embrace your inner pantser. 😉 I’m more like Lee Child, who said at ThrillerFest that as soon as he writes a plot point down, he loses interest in writing it. But I definitely need to have direction and know my characters well.

      PS I love the Edison example. Perfecto.

      Reply
  5. I’m a plotter, for sure! For mysteries, it’s a must. (Maybe I was first attracted to mysteries because of this, or the other way around?).

    The thing is, I’ve learned that I can’t plot everything. The writing process itself will often give me more insight and better ideas for where to take things next than I’d originally had in mind! Funny, huh? So, I’m learning to be more flexible.

    Thanks for a fab post, August! 😀

    Reply
    • Ah… No WONDER I don’t write mysteries. 😉 You make a great point. Thrillers are so non-formulaic, I imagine the genre attracts pantsers.

      I’m so happy to hear that you get joy from surprises popping up in your writing—one of the (many) best parts.

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  6. Oh god, sleep. I admit I’ve been known to come up with some stellar ideas while in the throes of sleep-deprived delirium, but once I hit “brain fry,” I’m no good for anything.

    My experience echoes Amy’s–the first WIP was complete pantsing, followed by a couple that were intricately plotted to the point where my creativity couldn’t quite breathe. My little Fast Draft project is one of the first where I have a general sense of each milestone, as well as the direction where I’m headed and how it will end, but lots of freedom in how I’m going to get there. It’s fitting: my protagonist is on a bit of an adventure and he doesn’t know how he’s going to complete his quest, so we can discover that together. Sign me up for the plantser club. 😀

    Reply
  7. EllieAnn

     /  September 3, 2012

    Great post! It’s interesting to see how you do it. Everyone is so different, and of course, their stories have to be!
    My first novel I wrote totally by the seat of my pants. It didn’t work out very well, LoL.
    My second novel I plotted, but didn’t profile any characters. It worked better, but still didn’t fly very well.
    My third and fourth I profiled every character, and plotted every scene. This is the path that works best for me. For short stories, I can wing it. But for novels, I really need to know the characters in them WELL, and the direction each scene needs to take.

    Reply
    • I’m with you there, Ellie Ann. If I know my characters, the story flies. In one of my first ever drafts, I barely liked my main character. Yeah, not a great sign. LOL

      So glad you’ve found a system that works well for you. Rock on, talented lady!

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  8. Ha! You may be more of a plotter than you think! 😉

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  9. I don’t wear a watch either but dislike being late, and never connected that to my writing method but it makes sense to me now.

    I’m a plotser/plantser (been using the first one but have heard both, also heard the term “pantyliner” but not sure most would choose that one). When brainstorming, total pantser, because one has to have the freedom to explore without boundaries. But, once that phase ends then I’m building what I call the “walled in playground” – all the things the characters can play with including a wall that keeps me from wandering off into the woods and getting eaten by a “what the heck am I doing way over here” bear. Then, let the characters play. Revise, rewrite, rinse, repeat.

    Sure I do some outlining, especially like graph-like mind maps (draw my own on paper) which is the structural and mega-scale plot and character arc planning. And a basic index card method for scene handling which also acts as “the wall” – if it isn’t on the card and the characters want to do it then they have to tell me why I should let them climb over the wall first and how that will help the story. Trust me, many times they just want to climb and that isn’t useful.

    Awesome post, August 🙂

    Reply
    • Pantyliner? LOL I could see Natalie Hartford or Jenny Hansen wearing that with pride–possibly pink and bedazzled.

      I love your “walled in playground” method, Gene. (Darn those perpetual climbers… ;)) Your strategy is more evidence of how creative and exciting they all can be.

      Reply
    • LMAO over pantyliner! I’m kinda juvenile that way…. It’s nice to see August knows me so well. 🙂

      Reply
  10. As I’ve told you–and many others–in the past, whatever works best for each writer. No deity-like, fiery finger carves any fixed rules into stone tablets. Knowing your work, I’d say that your method is A-OK.

    Reply
  11. “I’m pretty sure that the revision process this round will be more like spreading smooth peanut butter than using PB to get gum out of my tangled-up hair.”

    Want you to know the above quote will be with me throughout the revision of my novel, which coincidentally begins today. I could not be more grateful. Your words describe my last two weeks of work as if you had been sitting right there with me. Just in case I forget–I know, how could I forget all that gum and all that hair–I have your words as my guide.

    Thanks so much, August, as the entire post is a blueprint for all writers.

    Karen

    Reply
  12. August, it’s interesting how others can view us vs. how we do. My developmental editor thought for sure I was a pantser after reviewing my first novel and was astonished to discover I was an avid plotter.

    Funny enough, I did not deviate much from that plot outline yet my 4th novel I just completed evolved and morphed as I went so now the original outline does not reflect the final product. I think this speaks to our process as WE evolve as writers- meaning our process changes as we learn and change. And I’m not sure there is any black or white area in this. Pantsers must plot somewhat (even if they don’t realize it) and plotters must have new discoveries as they go along. The journey, in any fashion, is the wonder in writing.

    Like you I think now I am pantsing more, but writing faster with quality (I hope!). Good luck with your current project!

    Reply
    • Excellent point, Donna. I know I have a lot to learn as a writer. The idea of my techniques evolving and changing makes a lot of sense.

      How funny that your editor deemed you a plotter. You must naturally flow in an organized fashion. 😉 Good luck back at ya!

      Reply
  13. Well, since I lost EVERYTHING on my computer, I’ve been reevaluating everything. I’m trying to do that better balance thing. Yeah. That. So as soon as my new computer comes and I buy an external hard-drive I’m definitely going to try to write fewer blogs and persue more freelance opportunities. Since my books were devoured, this is a chance for me to let go and start over. Really think about how I want to move forward. I will likely post twice a week. I will never be one of those everyday writers. Nor do I want to be. And I’m thinking about other things, too. Like why did I start a fiction book when I prefer memoir? Yeah, that. Time to change everything. Less planning and hopefully less freaking out.

    Reply
    • Sounds like losing everything is inspiring you in awesome ways, Renee, even with all the ache it’s involved. I love that you’re not giving in or up, but moving forward and taking the chance to look at your work and where you’re headed. *cheers loudly* You deserve a crazy bright rainbow, and I believe you’ll get it (and more).

      Reply
  14. Oh, plantser! I never heard that one before. That is me. I actually prefer to be a pantser, but I also write mysteries (like Kathy Owen), so it’s important to know where I am going. I start with: overall idea for story, beginning (which may change), ending (who the bad guy/gal is and what their motivation was for doing the bad things). Then I do a very rough outline (sometimes only in my head, to start) and begin to write.

    I totally relate to Lee Childs’ comment. If I outline in too much detail at the beginning I lose interest in the story. I’ve got to, absolutely got to just start writing it, and then the outline gets more detailed as I go along.

    Interestingly, I am very organized in my daily life. But not in my writing. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much (one of many reasons) because it is the area where I tend to become more spontaneous.

    Reply
    • I love that you embrace freeness and less plotting in your writing, in contrast to the rest of your life, Kassandra. Can’t wait to read your mysteries. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Raani York

     /  September 3, 2012

    Sometimes I think I’m doing something wrong in my life and with my books – but then again, somehow both came out quite okay…
    I wonder what’s more “normal” – to be convinced everything is perfect and has always been, to see everything so unbelievably shiny positive to lose sight of reality, or to doubt that the mouse really goes for the cheese (if you know what I mean).

    What is it that makes me think things over and over again?
    Maybe to convince myself that, no matter what I did and what I decided – at least there was some action… LOL

    P.S. I still never get enough sleep… (might be because I need 13 – 15 hours a night)…

    Reply
    • If you didn’t question yourself, you wouldn’t be a writer. 😉 I totally relate, Raani. For me, the solution is keep writing—but that doesn’t mean I never doubt. LOL And man, I empathize with your sleep issues. Must be tougher when you need that much! Your ability to laugh at it all is a big ‘ol strength, in my opinion.

      Reply
  16. Coleen Patrick

     /  September 3, 2012

    Hope-rah! That’s awesome, August 🙂 I am a panster, but I love making lists. However true to my innate pants-ness, I often then consider said list optional!

    Reply
  17. When I set out to write this 6th book, I thought, “I’m going to do more of a plot this time!” and I read all this stuff about plotting and the hero’s journey and all this kind of stuff. And guess what? I still am a panster *haw!* I am still writing my book in the same way — it’s just how my pea-headed black-hole brain works. My brain does things in its own strange way -not just with my novels, but when I read (I can’t picture characters or scenes/images – but somehow I “see” them and enjoy the reading experience – it’s just there’s a bunch of flashing pieces of body parts or other images – same as when I try to write these things-it’s very weird and hard to explain). It’s why test-taking is difficult for me unless it’s an essay I can ramble on about and let the “facts” come to the surface in their own way.

    My entire first draft of my novels/novella are my outlines I suppose. Once that first draft is out, I see where I need to go and what I need to do. I like the revision process, so it works for me! I’ve had to quit beating myself upside my head.

    By the way, Stephen King isn’t a plotter – though I suppose he has to “plot” in some way so maybe he’s a planster 😀

    Reply
    • First drafts as outlines… That makes a lot of sense, Kat. But don’t say it too loudly. We pantsers seem to love our non-outlining-ness. 😉 I totally relate to those difficult to explain story flashes. I’ve been pondering the very same thing…

      Reply
  18. I either write a chapter to see if a story idea is going to be a good fit…then will do some plotting and develop my characters. If I already know it’s something I want to write, I deal with the characters, then comes any research, and jotting down ideas. Once I know my characters well enough, I’ll do a sort of outline. As in…well, I could do this, this and this in chapter one, then that, and the other thing in chapter two, etc… Whether anything in the ‘outline’ actually winds up in the book or not…well…that’s another story. The only thing I’ll ever know for sure is that there are always going to be a few scenes I want to include (usually the scenes that sparked the idea in the first place). 🙂

    So I’d say planster. Sort of.

    Reply
  19. I’m a pantser who’s trying to work some plotting into her future works. Not too much. But even as a pantser, I keep detailed notes on characters and potential plot issues in case things take an unexpected turn.

    Interestingly, I’m very organized in most other aspects of my life. It’s as if the Muse decided to fling all of that out the window when she brought the novel ideas to me.

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  20. angelapeart

     /  September 3, 2012

    Heck, yes, I am a plantser! It feels natural and I produce the best results this way. I need to have an outline, but not very detailed, and then I let my imagination take the wheel. I keep a lot of notes on a current novel(s) in progress and refer to them as much as I do to the outline.

    You are so right about taking rest and sleep into an account. Without a proper rest my brain just shuts down. But I have to admit that I work much better and much faster with a deadline approaching fast, and that’s when I often skip on the snoozing time 🙂 Contradicting myself much? Yeah, I guess so, haha!

    Reply
  21. Running from Hell with El

     /  September 3, 2012

    I enjoyed reading about how you work, August. It sounds very similar to what I do. If I try to go all plodding and orderly, I get frustrated and feel as if I’m somehow inadequate. I like to rock on and follow where my characters take me. The problem is, sometimes they don’t talk to me, or they send me to opposite sides of the country when they should be in the same place. Yeah, like on page 299, LOL. That’s when I set the computer aside and take a run.

    As far as outlining: I get a real broad one in my mind, and then I keep trying to figure things out a few chapters in advance. But for my sequel, I actually have it planned out in my mind. I can see what they’re all wearing and saying.

    Good point re we all tend to be on different sides of the extremes. Good point re sleep and creativity. I can bang out NF without adequate sleep, but not fiction.

    Hope you’re having a great Monday!

    Reply
  22. I think I’m a plantser too. I pantsed my first novel, and it went through more revisions than Joan Rivers. Now I plot more–mainly the big points–but still let the story unfold. Great advice about getting enough sleep with a novel. I have also learned that I need a quieter environment for novel-writing than blogging or other writerly tasks.

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  23. I love seeing it all laid out like this, August.

    I get an idea and write until I have enough of it on the page to see what that it – usually 5-20 pages. Then I sit down and lay out as many turning points as I can think of, chat about it with my critique group and write as many scenes as I can think of around those turning points.

    Then I fit all the scenes together and figure out what’s missing – write a new missing scenes list. Then (Margie Lawson taught me this one) I write a piece of paper for each of the leftover scenes and put it in a cup. Every morning when I sit down, I pick out one scene prompt and write it until they’re all done. (Oh HELL…I can tell I have a post here….)

    It sounds convoluted but it’s working to help me still be a scene writer but get my WIPs done. I’m as close as I’ve ever been in the process so let’s all cross our fingers. When I get to the end of the current round of busy-ness, I’ll have a fiction and non-fiction/memoir finished.

    So there you have it – more than you ever wanted to know about my writing process. 🙂

    Reply
    • Cup prompt post, YES! 😉 It’s so fun learning what works for everyone, you included. Whatever you’re doing, it sounds like it’s working. I can’t WAIT to read your memoir.

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  24. “The lightbulb moments happen if you let them.”

    That’s what I’ve been thinking lately. Some time away from my WIP gave me some perspective on what I want to add. I got a great idea to give more “character” to one of my characters, and am coming back full force. I agree, having some key things plotted out is a huge motivator to keep writing, but taking a walk on the wild side with pantsing can be fun!

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  25. I’m a bit of both – I usually know where the story will end up and a few key moments along the way but I don’t formally outline, just connect the dots as I go. I agree, it’s about finding what works for you!

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  26. Hey you, Great post. I have finally joined the blogging world (DailyDealn.com). I culda sworn I was already following you since I get things in my email, but maybe not. I’ve always loved your stories nonetheless and miss you even more.

    Reply
  27. Reblogged this on Scribbling In The Storage Room and commented:
    In lieu of a post by me, I am gifting y’all with this fabulous post by August McLaughlin. Enjoy.

    Reply
  28. I’m surprised Lisa Hall-Wilson hasn’t already chimed in here. The single biggest problem we’ve had with our co-written novel is that I’m a hardcore plotter with the detailed scene outlines and character sketches and she’s a hardcore pantser who doesn’t mind if it takes five complete rewrites before a story is ready. We try to meet in the middle, but even in the middle, she ends up feeling like she’s in the military and I end up feeling like I’m jumping out of a plane without a parachute and *hoping* to figure out how not to die between the plane and the ground. Neither of us enjoys it, but we keep plugging away because we’re friends and we love our story.

    Reply
    • You’ve described exactly how I write, August. I just never had a word for it! However, I don’t see myself using pantyliner 🙂 One addition I always make at some point — the big visual. Sometimes that means using a door to put up maps, photos, and plot points (I just realized this might be a form of storyboarding) about halfway through the first draft.

      Reply
  29. lynettemburrows

     /  September 4, 2012

    My process has been evolving, particularly during the past two years. I was a full-on pantser for three novels. Revision has been . . .enlightening. I am too much attracted by the next shiny object which makes my characters kind of ramble. My next novel is ‘beaded.’ I’m planning the big scenes, but in between scenes are pantsed. So I guess I’m becoming a plantser.

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  30. Ahhh *sigh of relief*, thanks for putting that all in perspective, August. “Plantser” is the right category for me with emphasis on the pantser side and now I can stop trying to figure out exactly where I belong and get back to revisions.

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  31. Fabulous tips and tricks August!
    I have always known that when the time comes to sit and write a book, I’ll be a hard core plotter. Lists and rules are my BFFs. LOL!!

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  32. lovely post and great tricks. I can’t plot but i do write notes of what happened in every scene afterward, so I can ensure the plot moves forward on review.

    Reply
  33. Kourtney Heintz

     /  September 4, 2012

    I love the three options. I’m a pantser when it comes to concept and character creation. I spend months in my head letting it go where it wants. When it comes time to write, I usually am a light-hearted plotter with a 1-3 page synopsis or 1-3 pages of notes on the characters, plot arc, etc. As I’m writing, I’m a plantser, trying to follow my synopsis unless it feels wrong or I don’t enjoy where it is going.

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  34. Hi August,
    Thank you. These are excellent tips for people who are beginning to write. I am a pantser. My characters talk to me over the months and when i sit down, we start writing. But I must admit that I have to unwind myself when I am working on two or three novels at the same time.
    Enjoyed reading the tips. They were a refreser that I needed.
    Ciao,
    Patricia

    Reply
  35. Karen McFarland

     /  September 4, 2012

    Well I can see why everyone is buzzing about this post August! You just have a way with words girl. Can you write a bad post? LOL! But this I must say is one of your best! I think because everyone is so different, how can there be just one way to write? But, since I am re-plotting and re-writing an ms at the moment, I do respect plotting more than ever before. Ah the bliss of writing that first draft without a care in the world only to find out later that you wrote a piece of crap. Well, good to know that we’re not alone. We’re all a work in progress and may I say that your post is so encouraging August! Thank you! 🙂

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  36. Great post, thanks! Even pantser was a new word for me. When I now try my skills in novel-writing I really like to let it go, and lose control of the plotting. This is a superb contrast to my other, more official, personality, where I write technical stuff (teaching, research, computing, etc.).

    Greetings from Sweden

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  37. Brilliant post, August! Love the play on the great debate: Plantser! 🙂

    Plantser is exactly what I am. I have to start out pantsing at least the opening scene that’s in the my head, then I work on character sketches for the story and the plot itself. As long as I have 4 major energetic markers plotted out (LOVE the Plot Whisperer, by the way), then I continue pantsing the rest of the rest of the story. But I will say that by the time it’s all said and done with the first draft, I do normally go back and write up a detailed outline (and hang post-its on my plot planner). It’s incredibly helpful when making those large-picture revisions, and having the scenes in an outline or on post-it notes makes it easy to play around with moving scenes around. 🙂

    Thanks for another great post!! 😀

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  38. I’ve plotted WIP #2. But its nothing too in detail. So I suppose its in between. We’ll see how that works.

    WIP #1 I didn’t plot before I began. I’m soooo regretting it now. I’m re-plotting it right now and I’m finding that I’m plotting with a lot of detail. Which is new for me.

    So, I think I’m still in the ‘figuring things out’ stage.

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  39. Late on this, but I’m a hybrid of the two. I pantsed my first book all the way, and it took a lot of revision to get ready. The one that’s sitting with the developmental editor now was pretty intricately plotted, and now I’m working on a trilogy that’s giving me fits. I’ve got large chunks figured out, but I’m also hitting walls and trying to figure out how to break them down. Wondering if I should just start writing and see what happens.

    Great post and comments!

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  40. mgedwards

     /  September 8, 2012

    Plantsing…I love it! A great idea. I’m a diehard pantser who’s been pretending to be a plotter but not doing a very good job of it so far. It’s been a major inspiration killer. Who wants to write the same story 2, 3, 4 times? I especially like your points 4 and 5. It does take time and perspective…writing is a long-term endeavor, not a short-term prospect.

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  41. I used to think I would NEVER plot a novel ever ever ever ever ever. Then I wrote 2.5 that way, realised they didn’t do what I wanted them to do, and that while my structure was somewhat instinctual, my first novel didn’t even have a climax.

    There’s a joke in there somewhere.

    With the new novel I just finished in June, I actually paid attention to my plot points, how they worked out in the story, and what I could do to amplify them. I also allowed myself to acknowledge that I wasn’t forced to follow my characters through whatever hell they dreamed up for my plot. I realised I could kick them in the arse and move them where I needed them as well. I was surprised at how liberating plotting actually became.

    Now I’m somewhat of a hybrid. I put up the frame of the house and let my pantser side paint the walls.

    Reply
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