Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Way We Are: Pantser, Plotter, or Inbetween?

Pantser, or Plotter. That's the question, right?

Do you plot out every aspect of your book before writing, or do you just start, and see where the muse takes you?

I used to think that everyone was either a plotter or a pantser. You hung out over there with the pants, or over there with the plot (where I swore I hung out). Then I realized that it isn't really a one-or-the-other kind of thing. Plotter or Pantser. Really, it's more like this:

And most everyone is probably somewhere in the middle-- not at one end or the other. I would call myself a plotter. I love figuring out things in my head and on paper and on plots and with images, verses figuring them out as I type. I don't usually have every detail mapped out chapter by chapter, but every time I hear of someone doing that, I get wistful, and think about how I'M TOTALLY DOING THAT IN MY NEXT BOOK.

Then I realized that I'm actually somewhere in the middle. Toward the plotting side, definitely, but I don't actually like to figure out everything ahead of time. I figure out the story arc, character arcs, major plot points, all of the beginning, and a good deal about characters. But there's a lot I KNOW I can't figure out until I work it out in the writing. There is some definite pantsing going on from my corner over here.

So how about you? Where do you stand in the Plotter / Pantser continuum?

27 comments:

Barbara Kloss said...

I am in the middle :) I start with an outline with LOTS of points. Then I have to write out that draft (it's TERRIBLE!)...after I write the draft, which is my way of seeing what works/doesn't work/etc, and then back to brainstorming how to fix... I continue this cycle until I'm happy. (which takes awhile)

prerna pickett said...

I was a pantser that is slowly evolving into a planner, so for now I'm an in-betweener.

Cristina said...

I'm in between. I outline the major plot points and the in between stuff I make it up as I go... at least that's what I'm doing right now.

Patti said...

I'm probably closer to the pantser side of things, but moving more toward the middle with every book.

i'm erin. said...

I'm a panster that wants to plot. I guess I just do a lot of pot. ha ha..

Abby said...

I'm somewhere in the middle too. Currently closer to the pantser side and trying to ease my way closer to the plotter side! lol

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm closer to pantser. I write a few things down in a pseudo outline, but once I get writing, it always changes. I've tried to outline, but it just doesn't work for me. :P

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I start out as an intense planner. I map about lots and lots of details. However, once I have these down in my outline and it's time to write the first draft, I morph back into a panster. It's almost as if my detailed outline works as a safety net.

Stacy Henrie said...

I'm more on the pantser side of things, but I did do more outlining with the revision I'm working on and actually enjoyed the results (not so much the plotting part). :)

Jenny S. Morris said...

I'm totally in the middle. I get an idea, then I have to plot out the characters and setting and where it might go, but I get to a point where I just have to write. Then for the rest of the time, I'm more a pantser. Scenes just come to me, and I go with the flow.

Faith E. Hough said...

I think I'm about a tick away from total planner...but I don't mind being surprised by where a story will sometimes take me!

Christine Rains said...

I'm a pantser. I've never been able to stick to an outline. The stories have minds of their own! I'm going to try to work with an outline next month for NaNoWriMo, though. I have only a limited amount of time for myself, so I need to try to structure myself.

David Powers King said...

A little of both. If I'm writing stuff I know nothing about, plotter. If based on previously acquired knowledge, Pantser. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I am a plotter pants down. Wait, what does that mean? I meant "hands down" I have become a plotter. Do you hear a crowe calling? ;).

Carrie Butler said...

"Here I am, stuck in the middle with you..."
Plotter-pantsers! :)

Isis Rushdan said...

I'm definitely in the middle. I know the beginning, the end and few major plot points. I let my characters show me the rest as I go along.

Iain said...

I'm a plotter with a little bit of pants. I have the plot line mapped out, the major points in each chapter, but after that, it all goes a bit pants :o|

Peggy Eddleman said...

Barbara-- Your way sounds remarkably similar to mine!

Prerna-- Haha! You know, in-betweener has a nice ring to it. Best of luck with your evolving!

Cristina-- I like making up a bit as I go, too. That's where all the happy surprises happen. :)

Patti-- I wonder how often that happens. When people move on that scale, do they always head toward the plotting side, or do some people head toward the pantsing side? Hm....

erin-- Whether or not you're a pantser I think is still entirely questionable. Whatever way you're doing it, though, seems to be working out for you JUST FINE.

Abby-- Want me to grab your hand and give you a pull? I heard quick-like-a-band-aid is the way to go. ;)

Chantele-- And that's the WHOLE KEY right there- finding out what works FOR YOU. Nothing else matters. Not even the jealousy of seeing someone's entire book mapped out in chapters. :)

Cynthia-- Oh! I LOVE that plan!

Stacy-- So, you liked the end... but not necessarily the means?

Jenny-- It sounds like a way that totally works!

Faith-- I actually think that's where I want to be. I'm a few ticks away, though.

Christine-- Best of luck with trying a new method! You'll have to let me know how it works out.

David-- Ah. Interesting! And totally makes sense.

Jessie-- Bahahaha! On all of it. :)

Carrie-- Hey, plot/pants line buddy! I'll sing with you! Can we come up with a dance to go along with it?

Isis-- I've heard several people describe their method as that. Sounds like it works wonders!

Iain-- Haha! That doesn't actually sound very far from the way I do it.

E.D. said...

Definitely a pantser so far - with some plotting on the side. I think it also depends on the project - at least that is what I tell myself.

Tara Tyler said...

plot, plot, plotter =)
but messy. i have a huge stack of papers with maps, floor plans, my outline, notes and several files on my computer for queries, synopsis, chapter contents, names used, bla, bla

but if i didnt have it, i'd forget!
=)

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm pretty close to those pants. I sometimes have a general idea of what the conflict is but usually I just know my characters and I start writing them. The story evolves as I go.

Shilpa said...

I dont plot much. Just a general summary of the story. It usually comes to me as I write. Only in revision I fill up the gaps. I am hoping it would work! :)

Kelley said...

I plot out a few points... like five and then panster everything in between. :)

Hannah Hounshell said...

I'm close to the middle. I usually plot out about ten chapters at a time, but they're only loose outlines and nothing is set in stone. Which is good seeing as I also have a tendency to write out scenes at random. They usually find their way into the story, but at the time of writing I have no idea where they go.

So mostly pantser with a sprinkle of plotter in there to help keep me on track.

Jolene Perry said...

Pantser.
The closest to plotting I come is to bullet out missing stuff inbetween what I've written.

I tried to plot, but it made me just not care, because I knew everything, and then I ended up off my plot before the end of chapter one.

Peggy Eddleman said...

E.D.-- Hehe! With some plotting on the side. Like a garnish! I think pantsing is awesome and fascinating and something I very much can't do.

Tara-- Your way actually sounds heavenly! I want to be like you.

S.P.-- And you suddenly got me wondering if pantsers tend to write really character-driven stories and plotters tend to write really plot-driven stories. Hm... Interesting.

Shilpa-- Sounds like a good plan!

Kelly-- The five point story plan. I like it!

Hannah-- The writing random scenes and finding a place for them later thing is also completely fascinating to me! I have to write chronologically. I wish I could hang out in your brain for a day.

Jolene-- Ha! And that's the key right there. Figuring out what works! If plotting is going to make you no longer care, I say stay far away.Run. Run!

Adam Heine said...

Is it weird that I spent this whole post trying to figure out what that was a graph of?

Don't answer that.