Thursday, July 8, 2010

To Pants or Plot, that is the question


Hello, and welcome to Tabby's Nocturnal Nights.

Today I would like to talk about being a pantser or a plotter. This subject came up on one of the critique sites I belong to. We discussed what each of us prefer when it comes to writing. Some of the ladies were plotters while others wrote by the seat of their pants, hence the name, pantser.

When I first started writing I never gave much thought to what type of writer I was. To be honest, if someone asked me if I was a pantser, I would have looked at them totally confused. LOL, I probably would have said, “Do you mean, panter? Like as in do I pant a lot?”

Okay, I wouldn't have said that, but for sure I would have thought it. I knew what a plotter was, but I never really thought if that description fit me as a writer. It wasn't until later that I realized I was a plotter. Maybe not what I call a heavy plotter, but a plotter nonetheless.

To me a heavy plotter is someone who plots almost everything that will occur in their novel. Sure, things may change, but the majority of their novel will be planned out before they start writing. A heavy plotter will have a outline of their story as a whole, an outline for each chapter, know almost everything there is to know about their characters.

A pantser usually comes up with an idea, dreams up a rough image of their characters, and starts writing. Now this doesn't mean that a pantser will be writing totally blind. I feel there are degrees of pantsers. Some may have a very rough idea of where their story will end up, have a basic history on their characters, world, and setting. Pantsers will fill in the blanks as their stories progress and their characters develop.

So, what was I, a pantser or a plotter? Well, I guess I am a plotter and I didn't really know it. When the idea for my novel came to me, I sat on it for awhile, adding more, mentally building the world, asking myself, what if's, and making sure that I knew where my story was going. During this time I had a rough picture of my characters, but that was it. I didn't know much about them, besides their names. Once I knew my story could work, I then started thinking of who my characters were. I came up with a history for both of them, I even came up with a history for my world and how vampires fit into it. Yes, lol, my novel is a paranormal, staring vampires.

I had a rough idea what would happen in some of my chapters, but I didn't make a detailed outline for each at this time. The outline for my story was more or less just jotted down notes, with no order. I made a character sketch, but that too was just notes written on scraps of paper and gas receipts from my purse—I would even pull over in my car if something came to me.

I started writing my rough draft. Once finished, I then became more of a heavy plotter. It was at this time that I made a more detailed character sketch of all of my characters—even secondary ones. I did this because I'm hoping to one day write a novel for each of them. I took my world a part and built it back up with a more detailed outline. I had a long look at all my chapters and decided to make an outline for each. Now, keep in mind, all these outlines are not set in stone, they have, and still do, change as more of my world is revealed to me.

What about you? A pantser or a plotter? Or are maybe you're a mixture of them both? I loved to hear from you.


Tabitha Blake said...

Plotter all the way. I tried to write my first novel by the seat of my pants and failed miserably. My current wip is mapped out from start to finish and has been a breeze to write. I think both methods are great but you have to find the one that works for you. Great blog!

Charli Mac said...

I am a former panster. I had half my novel written when I changed gears on the focus of the plot. Making what I had written all backstory. Now, I have my second WIP already mapped out persay. It's not a chap by chap yet but I feel good about it. I am no longer a panster but I will prolly change little things as I go along.