Have you heard these terms before? Maybe you’ve already identified yourself as one or the other. If you don’t know what plotting or pantsing is, that’s okay. Read on and you’ll catch up.
Simply put, a plotter is someone who plans out their novel before they write it. A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don’t plan out anything, or plan very little. Some people, like me, call themselves “plantsers,” which means they’re in a little of both. In reality, most people are plantsers, but some tend to lean heavily to one side.
However, there are pros and cons to each one. Let’s take a look.
Pros: Plotters, having planned out their novel ahead of time, know what’s going to happen before they write it. This makes it easier to bust writer’s block. It’s harder to get stuck when you know what’s going to happen next. Plotters also tend to get their novels written faster, or at least more smoothly.
Cons: Plotters are confined to their plans, meaning if they do get stuck or want to change something, they often have to redo their whole outline. And I can tell you from experience, redoing an entire outline is not fun.
Pros: Pantsers have the freedom to take their novel in any direction they want. They have flexibility. They’re not stuck following an outline, so if they don’t like a character, they can simply kill him. If they don’t like the way their plot is going, they can change it.
Cons: However, having no plan, or very little plan, makes it easier to get stuck. And if they get stuck, they have to come up with a way to dig themselves out of writer’s block, rather than following an outline that leads them in the right direction. When this happens, Pantsers often abandon old projects for new ones, leaving multiple unfinished novels in their wake.
What about you? Do you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pantser? Or are you a little of both?
Whatever type of writer you think you are—Plotter or Pantser—become the opposite for a little while. If you’re a Pantser, plot out your next scene or chapter for your novel. If you’re a Plotter, abandon your outline and write freely. Write for fifteen minutes and, if you’d like, post your practice in the comments. Have fun!