Good day, fellow writers! Gather round, because I have come here to ask you the age old question: when it comes to writing, are you a plotter or a pantser? You’ve heard those those terms, yes? I ask this because I have wanted to write about this for a while, and because I am immensely curious.
I shall begin by stating that I am a pantser. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means that you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’: as a pantser, you’re the Jack Dawson of writing: you start out with an idea, get excited and just run with it. Carpe diem! There’s no outlining involved, set characters, nothing. You go go go, just letting your vaguely invented characters and story take over, and pretty much bullshit your way through (in the best way possible). Basically it’s like a riding a wild stallion: it takes off at lightening speed, slows down then speeds up again, and sometimes it just stops to chill and graze. Which is totally fine.
On the other hand, if you consider yourself a plotter it means you like to plan out your story scene by scene. That makes you… Rose Dewitt Bukater (before she met Jack.) Or perhaps Mr. Andrews? Either way it means…. Outlining! Character charts! Properly thought out scenes! Amazing and thorough detail! You like having a detailed outline as to where your story is going and how it’s going to end. It’s pretty convenient, actually.
That being said, I’ve tried the plotting route. Really I have. But I just can’t do it. Even as a kid, I got bored with the idea of outlining your story from beginning to end (I blame school writing assignments). For me, outlining everything gets to be tedious; not to mention, it kind of spoils it by knowing exactly what comes next. Pantsing, however, gives me a rush when I get that new idea, which in turn leads to a new scene, or a surprise something from one of my characters. It’s fun! But on the other hand, this method sometimes brings the writing to a halt. I get stuck at a crossroads, and I have no idea where to take it next. I have to pause and stew over it for a bit before I’m able to get writing again. But it comes back to me eventually!
With all that said, in terms of plotting I find the process of outlining my characters fun. I like getting down to the nitty gritty of who they are, where they hale from, their interests, quirks, etc. Filling out character charts help progress my story, and helps me understand where they’re at. Other times (or most times, rather), I just let them reveal themselves because their voices are louder (aka, they’re disobedient little s****s), and I like to see who they become as I write.
If you’re a pantser like me, I hope that wild stallion takes you to far off magical places. If you’re a plotter, I hope that outline keeps your story and characters steady like a ship above water (and not like the Titanic). And if you’re a plantser… Well then, congratulations, you’ve got the best of both worlds!
And if you don’t know what writing method works best for you, then just experiment. Both methods have their perks, but in the end it’s totally up to you. But I have a feeling that deep down, you already know. (And that you either absolutely love one method, and totally hate the other.) Also, don’t think about it too hard either, because you’ll never get any work done.
a self-proclaimed Pantser.
Top image came from Tumblr. (So sorry, I have no idea who created it, but it’s definitely not mine to claim.)