Skip to main content

Pantser verses Plotter--the Pros and Cons

This election season is mercifully drawing to a close after one of the most contentious campaign in history which made me think about another battle, one that has  been waged for years among the writing community. Pantser verse Plotter. I feel that as a combination of the two, I can give pros and cons of both.

The Pantser
These writers are affectionally known as the seat of the pants writer because (you guessed it!) they write by the seat of their pants! No outlines or synopsis for them. Instead, they follow their characters, letting them write their own story. Great in writing a character-driven story plus this sort of writing gives you the sense of adventure and excitement. It’s this kind of excitement that drives a person to the computer, anxious to discover that evasive answer to the question: what happens next?

But it’s also that uncertainty that is the greatest con of being a pantser. Without a road map to tell you where your story is going, you might find yourself falling down the rabbit hole with no way out. Writing without moving the story forward which can be frustrating and time-consuming. I should know--I was firmly in the pantser camp for the first eight years I wrote. At first, the excitement of uncovering the story was addictive but butt your head against the wall of the rabbit hole enough and well, you get the picture. So unless you’re okay with taking 4 years to write a 70K novel or you’re just writing for the love of it, being a pantser can be frustrating and unproductive. At least, this was my experience.
The Plotter
These writers are the ones who have a notebook full of character charts, bits of research and possible plot points. They flesh out synopsis, make scene cards and hammer down every little detail of their novel, right down to the color of the drapes in the living room. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Sometimes, which makes it hard to put your backside in a chair and actually write. But when they do write, they produce manuscripts to submit to publishing houses.

A couple of years ago, after working as a first reader for a publishing house, I realized that I could tell the difference in those manuscripts that had been fully plotted out verses those written by a pantser. If I ever wanted to be published, I needed to learn how to plot. So I took a year off from writing, took classes on the art of plotting, worked on my own story’s plot line. When I continued working on my novel, I had a clear direction of where it was going. And I finished it in six months.

That novel became my first sale, Hearts in Flight.

Am I totally committed to plotting? Yes, but I don’t stop my characters from leading me toward a new realization that builds on the conflict or deepens the readers‘ insight into the character. That's when the pantser in me comes out. That’s why I think I’ve become a nice blend of the two--it’s what works for me.

So what about you? Pantser or Plotter? How do you make it work?  


Popular posts from this blog

A Vow Fulfilled--Chapter 4 (and a giveaway!)

If you missed yesterday's chapter, go to MaryLu Tyndall's blog to catch up! Remember to post a comment for a chance to win a basketful of great prizes including MaryLu Tyndall's latest release, Forsaken Dreams and Laurie Alice Eakes' book, Choices of the Heart. 

And now, A Vow Fulfilled:

Chapter Four Turner glanced between his cousin and Celia—no, not Celia.  William’s fiancĂ©e. The “confused” lady he was kidnapping at the bequest of his cousin could be nothing more than Miss Sheldon to him. And as long as he didn’t think of her by her Christian name, she’d stay nothing more in his mind than the living version of the portrait his cousin had painted.  A glorified portrait, he had eventually concluded after weeks of studying it, for no woman with as little guileless and much loveliness as had been captured on that canvas could love or even wish to marry a man as scheming, greedy, and narcissistic as h…

D-Day 70th Anniversary Celebration Blog Tour--Home Front Heroines

For a chance to win ALL TEN novels featured on our blog tour, please visit each blog, collect the answers to the questions, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway on the BLOG TOUR PAGE. You have a new chance to enter each day of the tour! The contest opens June 2, 2014 at 1 am PST and closes June 13, 2014 at 11 pm PST. The winners will be announced on Monday, June 16, 2014. *Note* Several of the titles will not be released until later in the year—these copies will be mailed to the winners after the release dates.

To win the prize of ALL TEN books, you must have collected ALL TEN answers. The winner must be prepared to send ALL TEN answers within 24 hrs of notification by email, or a new winner will be selected. You can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once each day! The more often you visit, the more entries you receive! However, you only need to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once to be entered. But don’t forget…to win, you must have collected ALL TEN answers. To collect the answers, y…

Tag! I'm it! Writer's Process Blog Tour!

Writers are always trying to find ways to reach our readers so when Camille Eide contacted me about a continuous author blog tour where I answer a few questions, I jumped at the chance. So thank you, Camille! Please go visit her at Extreme Keyboarding.

Question 1: What am I working on now?
At the moment, I'm writing a proposal for a new series based in the Georgia gold rush--and yes, there was a gold rush in the North Georgia Mountains in the 1830s. An unconventional woman goes in search of her missing father after her by-the-book uncle arranges a marriage to save the family business.

Question 2: How does my work differ from others in my genre?
A writer friend once told me that I write about strong women facing unusual circumstances in order to do the right thing. I like that. I also create stories around pieces of history most folks have never heard of.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
When I first started writing about women in unique historical circumstances, it was because …