- Pantsers are those who write by the seats of their pants. No plan, no outline, nothing is set in stone. The story emerges with a life all its own, often taking unexpected twists and turns along the way.
- Plotters are those who use some kind of story map (such as the Snowflake Method) or serious outlining to keep their work on track from start to finish. They know almost every detail about the story before they even get started.
When I started writing as a zit-faced twelve-year-old, I was pure pantser. I had no idea what my stories were about or where they would take me. Often, I just had a few characters and an exciting situation to work with, and I went from there. It was exhilarating.
This method worked well for about twenty years. But then I started trying to get published, and I found that some of my work needed major revisions to keep it focused on central themes. My pantsing ways had created more than a few tangents in need of pruning.
Now with the Write1Sub1 Weekly deadline looming before me every Saturday, I find that I must rein in my pantsing tendencies or else my submissions will never be finished on time.
But I'm addicted to the adrenaline rush of discovering where my story is going; it's like riding a runaway train at times, and my pen can hardly keep up. But there are lows, too. When I write myself into a corner and have no clue where to go next, I wish I had some idea how the tale as a whole should play out.
All this to say, as a recovering pantser, I can find value in some of the ways of the plotter, and lately I've been doing a bit of informal outlining to make sure my weekly stories have a beginning, middle, and end well before the end of the week.
So what are you? A pantser, a plotter,
or some kind of unique hybrid in between?
<< AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT >>
Heinlein's Rules for Writing*, which shall heretofore be adopted -- except for the 3rd one, probably -- as our Write1Sub1 Credo:
- You must write.
- You must finish what you write.
- You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
- You must put the work on the market.
- You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
So say we all?
*These rules originally appeared in Robert Heinlein's 1947 essay "On the Writing of Speculative Fiction."