Pantser, Plotter, Plantser

What kind of writer are you? If you’re new to this whole writing thing, you might not know the terms “pantser” and “plotter.” Here is a quick start guide for you, then.

Pantser: Flies by the seat of their pants, writes as the story comes to them, eschews outlines and plotting technique in favor of mystical downloads. Plotters think pantsers write crappy first drafts and spend decades trying to fix them. If only they’d plotted a little first!

Plotter: Plans out the entire novel from start to finish before the writing process begins. Detail-oriented, careful, patient. Pantsers believe plotters spend decades crafting long elaborate intricately-detailed notes and never get around to writing the novel.

Plantser: A combo-pack of Pantser and Plotter. Plots some things, lets other things flow. Might start with a detailed idea of where the story ends up, but lets the flow of the story figure out how it gets there. Plotters think Plantsers could save time if they just plotted more; Pantsers think they would benefit from a little less rigor, because who needs to know where a story is going before it actually goes there?

There are other terms for this that make maybe a little more sense. George RR Martin refers to architects (plotters) and gardeners (pantsers). Brandon Sanderson (and others) refer to pantsers/plantsers as “discover writers.”

Chances are good that we’re actually ALL plantsers and it’s just a matter of degree. I sometimes have no idea where the story is going, but I transcribe it faithfully as the characters spill their guts to me. And sometimes I like what they say, and sometimes I have ideas for improving it.

How do you write? Are you a plottter or a pantser or an architect or a gardener or something altogether different from any of those?

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