Have you heard of Plotters and Pantsers? Well, I’m a Pantser, with a touch of Plotter. A Pantser is a writer who flies by the seat of their pants, just sits down and writes without much detailed planning. A Plotter is a writer who plans out their novel before they start writing it. Most people fit more into one category, but really both processes take place during the writing of a novel.
For example if you’re a Pantser, you normally have at least a vague idea of where you’re going before you start. With my current novel, I was driving home from a writing conference when the concept came to me. I imagined the storyline, and made a storyboard with pictures that I cut from magazines and pasted along a timeline, to help me see where the story was going. So you might call this some minimal planning, but when I started the novel, I just sat down and wrote, unsure of where it would take me.
Now that I’m nearing the end of the book, I’m starting to look at what’s missing and am beginning to weave bits and pieces back into the writing. Last week I decided to make changes to the first chapter, so I went back and edited and edited and edited. Now I need to make adjustments throughout the book. It’s the first draft, so it’s simply part of the process. I worked this way when I wrote my memoir too. Of course I had a basic understanding of what was going to happen in the story, it was a memoir after all, but there were a lot of different directions that I could have gone, so it took a lot of writing and editing and reworking to get the story the way I wanted it.
When I’m writing, I see the story happening like a movie in my mind, but the details don’t always make it onto the page. My finger’s don’t seem to be fast enough to keep up with the story that is traveling through my head. In my novel, what I missed in world building and character development the first time through, is getting filled in during edits. And in both my memoir and my current novel, I eventually cut the first few chapters and the books started in totally different places than I first envisioned. As a Pantser, the writing process needs to be fluid.
If you’re a Plotter, you know what direction you’re going. You have a detailed plan. You’ve charted out plotlines, developed characters and designed and built the world where your novel will happen. Still, once it’s time to write the novel, Plotters are Pantsers too, because when they sit down to write, they have to do just that, write. And whether your book is all planned out or not, when the writing actually begins, all kinds of ideas and twists and turns take place that you may never have expected. So even most Plotters allow themselves to go down side roads along the way, because that’s when the magic happens.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Plotter or a Pantser, what’s important is to simply write.
WRITING PROMPT 1: If you’re a Pantser, take a few minutes to look closer at where your book is going as far as the storyline and plot, or write a character sketch of one of your main characters. If you’re a Plotter, just sit your butt down and write and see what happens.
WRITING PROMPT 2: Can being a Plotter or a Pantser help you in your daily life? Maybe writing down more goals (Plotter) or being more spontaneous (Pantser). Write about it.
WRITING PROMPT 3: Lilly never broke the rules, and she was afraid of heights, so as she stepped to the cliff’s edge, where she was now trespassing on the Anderson’s property, and looked to the water below she…