Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Plotter or Pantser?

This month it's my first birthday as a writer. I started Fait Accompli in April 2010, so I'm pretty much a toddler now, blundering around the internet learning things that everybody else knew already. Before I started writing novel #2, the WiP, aka Write Your Name, I decided that I needed to be more organised about writing. I needed a plan, I needed lists (I'm a compulsive list maker), I needed to plot my novel from start to finish. And when this grand master plan (probably colour-coded; I'm a compulsive colour-coder) was complete, then, and only then, could I begin Chapter 1, safe in the knowledge that I was completely in control (also a control-freak.)

Cue complete change in plot circa Chapter 3. We're talking the actual genre of the book type change. We're talking an additional POV character. Now I love the new direction this story is taking, don't get me wrong. My new plot makes me beyond excited. But I am, in life, a plotter (not the devious kind, well, not much.) I think ahead, I make lists, I'm organised. Spontaneous? Not so much. Surprises? No thanks. But when it comes to writing, I'm beginning to think that I'm a pantser hiding in plotter's clothing.

The farthest ahead I've managed to 'plot' so far is three chapters. But that's not really plotting is it. It's not fully pantsing either. So what am I? A plontser? A plantter? How far ahead do you plan your writing? 


  1. I know where I want to start, where I want to finish, and have a few key milestones to hit along the way. Within that framework, I let the character play. Not sure what the end product will read like, but it allows wriggle room for spontaneity :-)

  2. I used to plot out everything, but then I found that kind of killed the story for me (I already know what happens, so why write it!). Now I just get the main plot points down, then write out mini-outlines for the foreseeable chapters. That way, I don't feel like I'm trapped in a predetermined storyline and it keeps things fresh and interesting. Rosco, por exemplo, wasn't planned. Neither was Emma, for that matter. It was supposed to be two brothers at first ;)

    Also, I need a new picture. That image is the first thing my Macbook did when I turned it on over 2 years ago.

  3. Ha! I had you figured as a plotter! But considering I had myself figured as a plotter, I'm sure that says more about me. I know exactly how I want the WiP to end. As for the remaining 40+k words... :)

  4. Chris, I did wonder if I'd attracted the interest of an UNKNOWN MAN! But no, it's just you (love ya ;))

    I feel the same way - I get a little bored if I know exactly what's coming, and I write mini-outlines chapter by chapter. Sometimes I have a mini-panic to go with my mini-outline so it's nice to know I'm in good company :)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I'm a total pantser. I am always shocked at what my characters do. For me, it's like I'm watching a movie unfold in my head and I am typing what I see. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and I have rewind the scene and fix it. Does that make any sense at all?
    (I got e-blogger to accept me!!)

  7. I'm a plotter, but only as of my second novel. The first novel I pantsed and it went horribly (many many rewrites, as Ruth sadly knows, because I kept changing my mind about what I wanted to happen). So now, in effort not to spend a year doing what I could in 1/4 of that time, I'm plotting the whole thing. About 2000 words in so far :)

  8. Yay Kristine! I see some scenes in my head like a film, but others not at all. I think I need to work on that more (if working on such a thing is possible.) The ones that I 'saw' were ones that critters had more praise for in FA.

    @Ramona - it did not TURN OUT horribly though :) And I want to see that new stuff asap!

  9. I think you need to have a post explaining British slang. Sure, we know 'pants,' but what other items of clothing have duel meaning in Queen and County?

    What if someone said "D@mn the shirts!" or "Bloody codpieces!"

    Your audience in the States awaits you on pins and needles. Pins and needles!

  10. Chris, I really have given this some thought (no really, I have. I should have been working), and can't come up with anything else that has a dual meaning :(

    I don't know why you insist on have sneakers, sweaters and pantyhose instead of trainers, jumpers and tights, but you do.

  11. Sneakers can be trainers if you are using them to actually train for something, else they are sneakers or tennis shoes.

    Sweaters are sweaters because they just are; there are things called jump-suits and the possibility for confusion is just too great for the masses to bear.

    Pantyhose is generally a fleshy or dark fleshy, thin knit cloth that is see through when you stretch it that old ladies pull up over their legs in the hope of recapturing their lost youth.

    Tights are generally bold or at least solid colors (black and white are popular) that are very tight, not see-through, and are worn by the younger and generally more attractive fems in our country. They are lovingly known to guys as "hot pants" due to the nature of attractive women wearing them and how hot it makes their legs and ass look.


Please prove you are a robot. I'll be disappointed if you aren't.