Pantsing vs Plotting by Leia Shaw

Writers are probably familiar with the terms pantsing and plotting. If you’re not, I’ll give you a quick definition. Pantsing means you get an idea for a book then sit down and write it without a lot of planning. Plotting means exactly how it sounds – you plot either the whole book out in detail or at least some of it before you even start up your manuscript. Most writers do a combination of the two – some planning, at least a basic outline, and some winging it. Writing a book involves come amount of flexibility even if you’re a hardcore plotter.

As for me, I’m a happy medium. I outline the first half of the book,  usually, before I start writing. But my outlines are very vague. I know writers that have scene outlines with several bullet points under each chapter heading. That’s not me. I have a basic idea of what the scene should accomplish and how it will play out then I just start writing and see what happens.

In my next paranormal romance, Destiny Forgiven, I knew how it should start, I had no idea past a HEA for the ending, and the middle was completely blank. I felt like I just had to get writing so I just went for it and completely pantsed the whole first third of the book. I didn’t know exactly what would happen or when, I just had a vague idea of how the couple’s relationship should progress.

So I pantsed my way through the first several chapters and, honestly, I kinda liked it. But as it goes with complex plots, it can’t last long. About a third of the way through, I finally broke down and plotted the rest of the book. *sigh* Pantsing was fun and good while it lasted, but things were getting too confusing and I had to give my book some direction. They take off on their own sometimes, you know.

Anyway, I think I’m still a plantser (cross between plotter and pantser) and the beginning of this book was just a little adventure. It did free my mind – I know, cheesy expression. But I recommend it for anyone in a slump. Don’t think about it too much. Just sit down and start writing. You never know what can happen. And if it’s shit, just delete and try again.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Writers, are you a plotter or a pantser or something in between? Have you ever tried just one or the other and how did it turn out?

About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
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3 Responses to Pantsing vs Plotting by Leia Shaw

  1. I am definitely a pantser. I absolutely froze when they made us do outlines in school. To this day, I never got when you reached lowercase letters where you were really going. One thing that has helped direct me when I get lost is to write in 1st person for the POV character in the chapter. It’s very clarifying. Great post, Ms Plantser! That’s just like linner or dinch! LOL!

  2. Pingback: Character Sketch – Kai | Josephine L Brooks

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