Saturday, November 13, 2010

Plotters and Pantsers

Ok. It's time we got this debate underway. Or under weigh, as we say in the Navy, or as Richie Armstrong said when he boarded the Seahorse for the first time and he and Kuko and Angus Callahan headed for Cannibal Island. (An upper middle grade steampunk adventure yet to be assigned to an agent. Hint. Hint.) But I digress yet again.

Back to the subject for today in which we will explore the opposite ends of the spectrum for the novel writing modus operandi. It's an old battle and it continues today with the same vigor it always has. It's the Plotters vs. the Pantsers.

So into which group would you place yourself? Are you a Plotter? Do you have to know exactly what's going to happen before you begin writing that opening scene? Do you have an outline containing every scene in the entire story? Do you have a character sheet with details on your cast, down to their birthdays and favorite colors?

Or do you write by the seat of your pants, i.e., a Pantser? Do you just start typing and thoroughly enjoy whichever direction the story goes. Do you allow your characters to determine their own fate and simply type in what they tell you? Do you have to check back to a previous chapter (where was that?) to make sure you've given the correct address for your character's apartment, and placed them behind the steering wheel of the same car? And was that scar on his his left or his right hand?

So tell us. Which are you? And why? Try to convert us to your style of writing by giving us the details on why it's the best option. Go ahead. It's your turn now.


  1. Pantser with a little plotter when a gun is at my temple, deadline wise.

  2. Pantser, through and through. I tried really hard with the book I'm working on now, to plot each chapter (I've never written in chapters) and work out everything in advance. By day 3 of NaNo I was on 10K and hadn't gotten close to my story. So I tossed it all, started again and am now very happily just going where my characters want to go, which is often a very different place to where I expected them to go.

  3. I'm a little of both. I like knowing where I'm going but I don't write out extensive plotlines or character profiles. I generally have a pretty good idea of who people are and where the story's going, both of which become more specific as I work my way through the first draft.

  4. Pantser to about 1/2-3/4 of the way through, then I plot out the rest. Of course the answer isn't simple!


  5. Definitely a Pantser. The only order I have is that I usually know what I want a chapter to be about and I write it. But I never know where in the book that chapter will be. Sometimes I write a chapter I know will be in the middle or near the end, or near the beginning. Usually I write the opening chapter first, then the last chapter. The rest eventually figures out where it belongs, much to my surprise.

  6. I'm a pantster. I usually know a basic plot, but beyond that I just begin writing. As I write it just goes fromt here. I rarely ever have any chapter set out before hand. I tend to think about things later. All my novels have begun by having a dream and then the rest just came.

  7. Pantser for sure! SOme I totally pants, others, there's some genral plotting which goes off track anyway. I let the characters tell the story as I write. I have found I finish easier and faster when that happens.


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