Melissa Ford Lucken
The terms “plotter” and “pantser” are commonly used in the writing community to describe different approaches to the process of writing a novel. While both methods can lead to successful storytelling, they differ significantly in terms of planning and structure.
Plotter: A plotter, as the name suggests, is a writer who prefers to plan and outline their story in detail before diving into the writing process. Plotters typically invest considerable time in developing their characters, plotting the main events, and mapping out the overall structure of the novel. They may create chapter summaries, character profiles, and extensive outlines that serve as roadmaps throughout their writing journey. Plotters find comfort and confidence in having a well-defined direction, which allows them to maintain a sense of control over the narrative arc and the pacing of the story.
Advantages of plotting:
- Provides a clear roadmap: Plotting in advance allows writers to have a well-structured story with defined plot points, character arcs, and thematic elements.
- Minimizes the risk of writer’s block: By knowing where the story is heading, plotters can often avoid getting stuck during the writing process.
- Allows for better foreshadowing and plot twists: Careful planning enables writers to plant hints, clues, and foreshadowing that enrich the story and surprise readers.
Pantser: A pantser, on the other hand, is a writer who prefers to “fly by the seat of their pants” and embraces a more spontaneous and intuitive approach to writing. Pantser writers tend to dive into their stories with a loose or nonexistent outline, relying on their creativity and the flow of inspiration to guide their writing process. They may have a general idea or a starting point in mind but leave room for their characters and the story itself to develop organically as they write. Pantser writers often find joy in the surprises and discoveries that emerge during the creative process, relishing the sense of spontaneity and freedom it brings.
Advantages of pantsing:
- Cultivates creativity and exploration: Pantser writers often discover unexpected plot twists, character developments, and thematic nuances during the writing process, leading to unique and original storytelling.
- Embraces flexibility and adaptability: Without a strict plan, pantser writers can adapt their story as it evolves, allowing for new ideas and inspirations to shape the narrative.
- Can result in more organic and authentic storytelling: By allowing the story to develop naturally, pantser writers may find their characters and their emotions come alive on the page in a more authentic manner.
It’s important to note that these terms represent two ends of a spectrum, and many writers fall somewhere in between, incorporating elements of both plotting and pantsing. Ultimately, the choice between plotting and pantsing depends on the individual writer’s preferences, writing style, and the specific needs of their story. Experimenting with different approaches can also be beneficial, as it allows writers to find the method that best suits their creative process.