A Writer’s Identity Crisis: Pantser vs. Plotter

What kind of writer are you? Pantser? Plotter? Both?

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We, as writers, are funny creatures. We are not ones of habit. The Writer adapts when scenes go awry in our brains, when our characters have the gift of gab, or stop speaking with us altogether. The path in which The Writer chooses to take is one of question. One that we continue to beg.

Is The Writer a Pantser or a Plotter? Or is it possible to be both?

Full Disclaimer: There is no right or wrong way to write your book. Whatever works, flow with it. The most important thing regarding your first draft is to get your words on paper and build that story.

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What is a Pantser?

If you are a writer who just guns it on the writing-battlefield without an outline to fall back on, who skips about, bounces between chapters and scenes (whichever calls to you first). Chances are, you are a Pantser.

As a Panster, you can very well have an excellent idea of where your book is going, what happens, and/or how it ends without that visual guide in front of you.

Some may consider this “writer’s freedom” because you’re restriction-free of your outline, and have absolute flexibility. You get to know the world of your story in the same timeframe as your characters.

Authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, and Diana Gabaldon are famed Pantsers.

Some Things to Look Out for as a Pantser:
-Increased likelihood of writer’s block/getting stuck.
-Expect many rewrites in your wake.

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What is a Plotter?

Writing an entire book is detailed. If you are the type of writer who needs organization, a visual in front of them—has an entire skeleton mapped out (writing templates), can write in chronological order (start to finish), and has every minute detail fleshed out—chances are, you’re a plotter.

Many writers take comfort in knowing what’s going to happen, and there are no surprises. Writers also can likely better frame their writing schedule around such.

E.x. According to my outline, I can accomplish three chapters in the span of an hour.

Authors such as J.K. Rowling are Plotters.

Some Things to Look Out for as a Plotter:
-Restrictions prohibit flexibility.
-If you try to wiggle in something new, or change anything up, you may have to rewrite your entire framework.

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But, Concetta, what if I Identify as Both?

If you feel you don’t fall completely in one category or the other, or sense yourself taking characteristics from both, then that’s also great!

A writer who is both can have a detailed outline and still find themselves jumping around writing random scenes that won’t leave you they’re address. Or if you’re writing Part One of your book and really have to write out a chapter from Part Three that you’re fearing you’ll forget if you don’t write it now. I’ve been there. I wrote my work as both a Pantser and a Plotter.

I had a detailed, fleshed out outlined framework of my chapters, my characters, I knew well where they were going and what they were doing. There were places where I still found myself stuck, new nuggets of ideas that betrayed my framework and dared me to deviate.

I couldn’t write Part Three unless I added another character’s POV because a character’s voice wouldn’t leave me. And that made all the difference.

I still had my freedom while following my guidelines.

So, which route do you take? A Panster? A Plotter? Or a beautiful blend?

1 comments on “A Writer’s Identity Crisis: Pantser vs. Plotter”

  1. Wonderfully put and great thought!

    I am a Pantser all day – flying by the seat of my pants! While I do occasionally dabble into plotting for a more general outline/structure/goal setting, the majority of my content is left to the sway of passions enticing breeze. For me, it makes the whimsical, wonderous thoughts of my mind flow organically. Does that sometimes add time to my refining process? Sure, but I believe I end up with a better story by going with the flow vs sticking to the script from some booger who hasn’t come as far as I have (ie me from the past!)


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