Friday, November 13, 2009

Plotter or Pantser?

There's a lot of words that are only used by writers. Plotting or pantsing describe certain writing styles. When I first heard the word pantser I had a mental image of a little boy depantsing his victim, but I was wrong. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. They don't know what they are going to write until their characters tell them and they can be surprised what happens as much as the reader.

Plotters--well--they plot out their scenes diligently.

I can't say any type of writer is better than the other. I think I tend to lean towards the plotting side of the spectrum, but I don't go way out and build full outlines or picture boards. I have a really lean outline I use, just to get my characters to go in the right direction. I start with one sentence for the scene just to remind me what's supposed to happen.

Pantsers have a certain excitement and unpredictable nature to their stories. I like that but a lot of pantsers will write themselves into a corner that they can't get out of and have to rewrite the beginnings to fix that.

Plotters are predictable but steady, and the bad thing about plotting is it can get boring. Or worse, you feel like you have already told your story, since you outlined it--so why write it when it's already been told?

There's benefits and negatives to each style. I think it's best if you can identify your writing style early on and use it to your advantage. Also, not to fight it. If you use a combination of styles, even better.

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