Plotter or Pantser?

So which is best? Being a plotter or a pantser? I really have no idea at this point, but I suspect I’m somewhere in between. I did a lot of plotting for nanowrimo. I won so that seems like a good thing right? I’m not so sure. Somewhere in the middle I lost my way. All my planning and I managed to get stumped? Yep. I made an outline, not a vague outline or a simple one. I made a full-out official looking outline (I hated it). I had a blank wall outside my bedroom door so I made plot cards and taped them up. I didn’t make a card per scene. I made 3-7 per scene. That I loved. When I got writer blocked in the face I looked through my outline and found nothing. I stared at my plot wall and was able to at least see gaps that needed filling and get some more work done. One things that was really helpful was a character sketch. I had written down everything thing I knew about each character, adding anything else I figured out along the way. Those pages helped me come up with what-if questions. Those questions are what got me back on track. Still, it was like a battle plan and most of my strategy went out the window after the first ‘really cool amazing new’ idea popped into my head. Basically the conclusion I’ve come to is I need some planning, but too much doesn’t work for me. Having a simplified outline is a good jump point. Writing character background stories is great for me too. My wall of index cards was wonderful. Even so, at heart, I’m a pantser. Most of what I wrote was unplanned. That’s how my mind works. I need a little organization and a little clutter to function and I’m perfectly happy with that.

That said, I’m sure I’ll change my tune when I really dig into revisions.

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3 comments

  1. I agree with you. I don’t think going full blown one way or the other is the best, but finding a happy middle with a decent plot outline with lots of wiggle room. And my plot also went out the window when I did NaNoWriMo. Now I’m having to find it again as I edit.

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  2. I used to be entirely outline type person. I would write my outline like an eight year old trying to tell you the movie they just watched. If you had seen the same film you could follow it. If not, well that makes it interesting. Nowdays I find myself starting the project, getting a bit in, then outlining. Sort of combines the two methods. What I really need to do is get better at finishing, but I am sure that is another post. 🙂

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  3. I have a general loose idea to begin with, a bit like “the good side wins.” And then characters develop, and I write a starting chapter (although that may get changed) and see what happens from there, plot a little, pants a little, and the story unfolds. When I’m using a historical base, I do plot a little more, just so I have the basic framework in mind as I decide whether to follow it or break loose (both have happened).

    I’m an ultraplotter for non-fiction, though. No outline, no write, period.

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