Here's a CliffNotes-style refresher:
- 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 (like the Snowflake Method) or serious outlining to keep their work on track from start to finish. They know almost every detail about their story before they even get started.
This method worked well for about twenty years. Then I started trying to get published, and I found that some of my work needed major revision to keep it focused. My pantsing ways had created more than a few tangents in need of pruning.
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 pitfalls, 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 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 stories have a definite beginning, middle, and end well before I set fingers to keyboard.
So what are you? A pantser, a plotter, or some kind of unique hybrid in between?