Monday, February 16, 2015

Discussion Post: Plotting vs. Pantsing

All writers have different preferences regarding how they write. So, today we decided we're going to talk about what kind of writer we are: Plotter or Pantser. In other words, do we outline everything or do we just start writing?

Plotting vs. Pantsing


I'm a TOTAL pantser. When I was younger and first writing, I tried to outline, and had some success, but my best, from-the-heart writing always seemed to happen when I ditched the outline and just let my characters decide which way to go. 

My only "rule" now is: to start a new project, I wait for the main character or characters to sort of "form" in my head, enough so that I know their name and who they are, where they live, and the central plot and conflict of the book. I need to know a little bit about the destination, but I don't try to plan the journey. And really, that's the fun of it. 


I'm a little bit of  both. Each project is different for me. Sometimes I get an idea and I just start writing, while other times I'll write pages and pages of notes before I even think about starting the first sentence of a story. I like to have a general idea of where things are going, but I rarely plot the entire story, mostly because my characters tend to develop minds of their own, and there are often twists and turns I didn't foresee. That's one of the things I love about writing - anything is possible. I love having the freedom to change my mind or let the story and characters go in a bit of a different direction than I was expecting. If I plotted out every last detail, there wouldn't be room for those fun little surprises, and I'd hate to lose that in my writing.


I started out as a plotter, but I've started to pants my way through certain books. I still plot, of course, but a lot of my writing ends up being more spontaneous thoughts coming together in one moment. The main elements are fairly fixed in mind (I have a good idea of how it starts, how it ends, and several scenes in between), but there are plenty of parts that get thrown in there on a whim. A couple of the scenes in Longing weren't even thought of until I was nearly finished with the first draft. So, I ended up pantsing my way through those so I could get back to writing the last few chapters.


I've done most of my writing as a plotter with outlines all over the place. Then once I actually start writing, I end up tweaking several scenes and become kind of a pantser. I was definitely more of a pantser when I did NaNoWriMo in 2011! I barely (and I mean BARELY) had If Only We plotted out. In fact, there was A LOT of the original writing that I discarded. I think that's why I shy away from pantsing because of how horrible that first draft of If Only We was. Part of me thinks that maybe I could become a pantser, but I'm afraid I'd throw the timeline way off balance and possibly have inconsistent personalities in my characters.

How about you?
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Tell us in the comments!

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1 comment:

  1. I'm a big panster. Sometimes I know bits of the story, but I don't often write it down. If I'm on a roll and have to stop writing, I will jot down the next scene to ensure I don't forget it.