Monday, August 23, 2010

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I was sitting at my computer reading my lesson for the day from my on line class. The teacher, Kerri Nelson, asked us this very question. Are we plotters or pantsers? The term plotter is pretty self explanatory. It is a person who sits down before they write their story and plots the book out. Notes upon notes of how they want the story to go. They may do this on the computer or in a note book but they devote time and energy into figuring out how they want their story to go.

A person who is a pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants. They don't plot anything out, though they will jot done notes as needed. It's called free writing and this is the kind of writer I am. I write as the ideas flow into me. I have an idea of where I want my story to go at all times, but the meat of the story comes to me as I go.

Of course I do my research ahead of time, but there is always more research to be done as an idea hits me. That is what I use my notebooks for, all of my research. You will find a few story ideas in there. Small paragraphs here and there, but that is only because when I am at my computer, I write in order. No jumping ahead. So, if an idea comes to me for a spot further in the book, I write that idea down.

There is no right or wrong way to write. What works for one person won't always work for another. I have tried to plot out my story and it just doesn't work for me. The one time I tried it, I realized I was spending too much time plotting and not enough time writing.

Now, as you read this I see you saying to yourself, that makes sense, or that is the kind of writer I am. Leave a comment and let me know, are you a plotter or a pantser?


  1. I'm definitely a Panster, but am thinking I need to become more of a plotter, because I am too easily distracted. I do much of my research as I write, and the internet being what it is, I could be looking up "medieval tableware" and spend the rest of the day surfing around the web, ambling from one site to the next, and wind up planning a vacation in
    Yugoslavia. The basic details and plot outline are always in my head, but I tend to get hung up on the minutiae.

  2. Surfing the web has been one thing I have never really done or had an interest in. I get on there and do the things that need to be done and that is it for me. Probably a good thing too!!!

  3. I am definitely a Panster! (Hey Pam! Glad you finally joined). But much like Pam I can get caught up in the details. To limit myself from doing this I now give myself a specific goal.

    Goals for today:
    Look up regional dialect
    Look up local climate

    You get the point. So that I am not going off task. As for plotting, I am not good with this form of writing. If I could plot very well I would have plotted how I would have become a millionare at age 25.

    I can think of scenes and how I want them to progress but once I sit down, keyboard in hand it is anyone's guess.

  4. I'm a panster who likes to jot down story ideas as I go. I plot a little, but never more than a few scenes. I like to edit as I write, which is really slowing me down. I'm working on that. Whenever I feel the urge to fix things, I remind myself I can do it later.

  5. I have done it both ways. My mind wants desperately to be a panster but I didn't start selling my stories until I became a plotter. I have 38,000 words done on a book (that I hope will be about 90,000) and its plotted on a chart.

  6. Thanks for commenting everyone. It was great to hear how you do your writing. Good luck in your futures!