Plotters vs Pantsers

It seems like most writers have heard of plotters and pantsers, but I thought I’d post a little something about it here for anyone who’s unfamiliar with the terms.

Let’s start with definitions

  • Plotters are people who take the time to plan out every detail of their story before they sit down and start writing it.
  • Pantsers write without a plan–by the seat of their pants, so to speak.

I suspect most people fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Plotters probably get the urge to change major details of their story as they write, no matter how much time they spent planning things out beforehand. Pantsers most likely have an idea of the major conflicts in their story, as well as how the story might end, even if they originally started with just a character or a scenario. 

There’s nothing right or wrong about either system

Writing is a subjective art. The only system that matters is the system that works for you.

There are pros and cons to each style, of course. Plotters spend more time developing their story in the beginning, so it takes longer for them to actually start writing. However, many pantsers will spend more time editing their rough drafts and checking for plot holes and inconsistencies than plotters. I’m glossing over things a little here, because I assume you don’t want to read all the nitty-gritty details. I can expand upon the topic if anybody wants to hear more about this from me, though.

I’m definitely somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I have a pretty strong idea of where my novel is going in my head, but I don’t need to spend time writing it all down. Plotting hasn’t worked for me in the past. I end up getting better ideas as I write, and then the plans go out the window.

Do you know any plotters or pantsers?

What about you? Are you a strict plotter? A wild pantser? Or do you fall somewhere in between, like I do? Next week I’m going to take a break from writing tips and talk a little more about myself and my current project. See you then!

**An updated version of this post is available here.

pantsers pin image

Image Credit: Hutomo Abrianto, Unsplash

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