Plotter or Pantser

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In writing there are plotters and pantsers. Plotters are very detail-oriented. There are lots of ways to plot: index cards, post-it notes (above), white boards, character charts, pictures of settings, etc. Pantsers write literally by the seat of their pants, letting the story take them where it will. I’ve written a manuscript with plotting and a manuscript by pantsing. Either way works.

Now, I have a theory. Plotters and Pantsers are more alike than they knew or might like to admit. I believe the plots of our stories are in our subconscious and the difference in plotters and pantsers is the method of getting it from thought to paper.

Plotters start out by getting the plot organized with brainstorming and notes. Pantsers write the story as it comes to them.

What about writers block? I think it occurs to plotters when they missed a thought in their outline. An event or dialogue block skipped in the planning stage. It occurs to pantsers when they don’t listen to the plot already in their subconscious.

The story is there waiting to be harvested; it is either waiting to be plotted and written or just written. A writer must have faith the story is there just waiting to be told.

What is your writing process? Plotter or Pantser?

Jill James

10 thoughts on “Plotter or Pantser

  1. Laura McCann

    Hi there Jill! I think I am more of a pantster who uses plotting techniques! I finished my first book primarily because I had plotted the whole thing out! Had I not done that, I don’t think I would have finished.

    Have a great weekend!


  2. Lee

    I’ve done both plotting and panster, and they both work, in combination for me. Recently I’ve had writers block and what has helped me is plotting. Going through the process, opens up a few doors, that had been locked before. Panstering, I can get stuck with no where to turn, so right now I’m a plotter, inwhich case most likely I’ll become a panster with my next work.


  3. Virna, thanks for stopping by the blog. Sometimes if I’m not writing it is because I plotted the story and I need some pantsing, or if I am pantsering, I need to plot some.


  4. Hey Jill! I’ve always considered myself a panster until recently. I started a new WIP last week and I actually sat down with an outline. Of course it’s not exactly plotting, but it’s a start. Plus I find it a lot easier having a direction.


  5. Tonya, I’m very much a plotter, but I’m finding if I do really good character sheets like in Breaking Into Fiction by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love that I can write any situation as long as I know how my characters will react.


  6. I’m a pantser. All pantser. I’ve tried outlining and such because it sounds like it would be so effective. And I know it is…for someone else. 🙂


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