06 June, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group: I Thought I Was A Plotter

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

From his blog:
It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic.

Now, my post this week is about the time-honored question: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Most writers, I think, consider themselves to either be in one camp or both. I used to consider myself a die-hard plotter, i.e. that writer who had the entire novel set out by Chapter 2 or 3.

But I'm participating in a writing challenge this month to hammer out 30k during June, and to be honest, I have no inclination to plot. At all. In fact, I'm having quite a lot of fun just writing on-the-fly, filling in the blanks as I go along.

A good part of my mind is shouting at me to plot. The other part is thrilled. Since it's been a long time since I really felt inspired to write anything novel-length (as I do now) I've decided to try pantsing my way through this novel. It will probably--in fact, I'm sure it will--be even more of a mess than if I plotted it. But it's a first draft, and there are always revisions. Right?

As for whether I'm a plotter or a pantser . . . well, I figure it doesn't matter so much so long as I'm actually writing something.

Have you ever questioned your plotter/pantser status? Which are you--or are you a mix?

-----The Golden Eagle


Cherie Reich said...

I'll admit that I'm more of a plotter. Every time I got into a novel without plotting, it just falls apart or I get tired of writing it and set it aside. If I know, then I'm able to just keep writing until the end.

M.J. Fifield said...

I am a pantser. I never know what's going to happen until it happens. And sometimes, I don't even know it then.

Krista McLaughlin said...

I thought I was a pantser until I wrote my most current novel and I couldn't write anything unless I'd written down some plotting about it. It was very strange. I guess I'm a mix of both.

Maybe we can change over time?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If it's working for you, don't mess up the writing flow!
I'm definitely a plotter. If I didn't, my stories would wander off and never return.

Brinda said...

I am definitely a mixture. I do
Some of my plotting a step or two as I go along. I do know how everything is going to end.

Liz said...

I'm a plotter. No question.

You can always go back and plot once the first draft is written. This might just be your brainstorming draft.

Old Kitty said...

I'm a panster! LOL!! I never knew I was until I started blogging! LOL!

Yay for you for enjoying the writerly process! Take care

shelly said...


Is there something special out there abour writing 30,000 for the month of June? I'd love to join it because I have a new idea I'm working on and am at 2281 words right now. And I'd like to get as much pumped out as possible.

Pat Hatt said...

I try to plot then usually end up just going with it anyway, so a bit of both.

Matt said...

I'm definitely a plotter but that doesn't mean I'm totally cut off from some spontaneous changes in the writing :)

Elise Fallson said...

I am definitely a panster. Plotting slows me down and kills the flow. However, I've hit a block in my writing and am wondering if doing some kind of outline may help me push through. Anyway, what ever works to get word to page is good enough. (:

Geek's Paradise said...

I'm gonna have to go with a pantser. I often begin writing with a story in mind but it most always tends to morph into a finished product that is completely unrelated to my original thought.

Sofia said...

I do a basic plot outline in a few paragraphs, just to give me some sort of idea, and then I mostly just pants my way through the rest of it. I'll have a vague idea of what will come next, but then I just fill in most of the blanks as I go.

Daisy Carter said...

I have to have a rough idea of where I'm going. Usually, I know exactly where I'm ending. But then I write on the fly to get there.

Andrew Leon said...

I don't typically need to do a lot of revising once I'm at the end of my first draft. Just editing for grammar, etc.

Neither camp would really recognize me; although I'd say I lean to the plotter, because I always have a destination in mind. I just don't write things down, and most plotters feel that that's a necessity or something :P

Shelley said...

Well, I've never actually written a story, only poems or short stories. I think I'm a mix of both. :)

Carrie Butler said...

I'm glad you're feeling so inspired! :) I'm a mix, but I lean toward plotter.

Edith said...

Er... maybe neither? I seem to get stuck either way. Isn't that dandy. :P

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I do very general plots but mostly I'm a pantster.

Karen Walker said...

Not plotting at all - just allowing story to emerge. It's driving me nuts.

Trisha said...

I'm definitely more of a pantser, because plotting just makes things too predictable (der) and boring for me. There is something invigorating in not being tied down. Even if you do know where your story needs to end up, having a middle to play around with makes it more fun.

Anonymous said...

I've tried both and plotting works better for me...

Lydia Kang said...

I am most certainly a plotter, though I pants scenes. It's messy but it works!

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Hey Golden, 30,000 words in June eh? my Writers Centre hosts a Rabbit Hole a couple of times a year - writer 30,000 words in a long weekend. Well I think that's ridiculous but a friend did it, but admits a lot of her words are rubbish. Well a lot of our first drafts are filled with rubbish anyhow. A good way to get a story idea fleshed out a little.

Good luck meeting your word limit. I think I've moved from a Pantser to a mix between both.


Patricia Stoltey said...

I've tried all kinds of plotting techniques but they don't work for me. My characters stray from the plan by Chapter 3, and I tend to let them have their way. Might as well not waste time on an outline I'm going to ignore.

Donna Hole said...

Gotta figure out your own style Eagle :)


Nancy Thompson said...

I have been questioning whether I'm a diehard plotter. See, I hand write what I consider an outline, but the closer I look at it, the more I realize it's more like a first draft. So if that's the case, I'm sitting in my chair in ffront of the Tv writing my first draft and it's all off the cuff, meaning...I'm a freakin' pantster!!

J.W. Alden said...

For short stories I usually pants it, though I've had a few stories that came to my noggin in the shower with complete beginnings, middles, and ends.

For novels I'm somewhere in between, but a tad more toward the plotting side. I write an outline that gets me going and keeps me straight, but that I will invariably edit heavily as the story does what it wants to chapter after chapter.


Siv Maria said...

Maybe I am a mix, I don't know--I just write and some of it is planned, some of it not. Whatever you do, if it is working and the words are coming--Go for it!

Christine Rains said...

I'm a pantser, and I love the rush of writing first drafts. It's difficult for me to revise and edit. I tend to take lots of notes when I do, becoming more of a plotter after the fact.

Traci Kenworth said...

Until recently I was a plotter but there's been such a freeing vibe in panstering that I don't know if I'll ever go back.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

At first I was a pantser, but soon learned that this approach yielded a disorganized mess. Then, I went to plotting. Although this helped to organize my thoughts, I discovered that my characters wound up taking me to unexpected places, which caused me to add chapters on the fly.

After three years of working on the same novel, I've found that doing a little of both is the way to go. At first I plot, but keep my mind open to new ideas during the writing process. It's working because I'm three-quarters of the way through my book, and if I do say so myself, it's the best draft yet.

laughingwolf said...

pantser, all the way...

when i get stuck, i query my characters...

not that i always do what they say, of course, but i do consult them :O lol

TL Conway said...

I like to imagine I'm a plotter. However, I tend to veer off script about 2/3 of my way through the story and go on full pantser mode til the end. I think that's a sign that I need a better outline!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ich Ein Pantser

Mark Noce said...

Gosh, I'm sort of both. I find that things go smoother if I plot everything out, but I really enjoy the mystery of flying blind when I'm writing...i.e. working myself into a corner and then working myself back out of it. All part of the adventure.

The Golden Eagle said...

Cherie: I usually find things go that way. But I'm not sure this time. :P

M.J.: Sounds like a fun way to write, though.

Krista: I think writers can change in their habits/techniques; I know I do some things differently than when I started out.

Alex: . . . LOL. Now I'm imagining books wandering off on little legs. Ahem.

Brinda: I've read about a lot of writers who have their ending set out when they begin. I'm actually the opposite--I rarely know where the story will finish, even as I start plotting, if I do plot.

Liz: That's kind of what I'm hoping for, actually--a brainstorm.

Old Kitty: I didn't know about the plotter/pantser debate until I started blogging, either! Interesting what you learn from other bloggers. ;)

Shelly: It's just a challenge that a few bloggers I've known for a while are participating in; nothing official. I have heard a lot about BuNoWriMo, though, which is a NaNo-style challenge taking place this month.

Pat: Sometimes that happens to me, too, when I have a plot. Ideas will just spring up and then I'll run with them.

Matt: I'm the same, if I'm plotting a story. :)

Elise: Yeah--I'm mostly just glad that I'm not facing a wall right now.

Geek's Paradise: That's what my first novel did. I started out with one idea and then the story kind of exploded. :P

Sofia: Even when I do plot, I'm usually filling in gaps as well. I know some people go into super-detailed breakdowns of each chapter, but I write down the major points and maybe a few subplots.

Daisy: Funny, I rarely know where I'm ending when I start a story!

Andrew: That's efficient. I wish I could write a novel and not have to revise it. :P

LOL. Yeah, there does seem to be a lot of emphasis on writing stuff down when it comes to plotting.

Shelley: Seems like a lot of writers are!

Carrie: Thanks. :)

Edith: Yeah, sometimes the inspiration just doesn't come. Certainly is frustrating when that happens!

Susan: Sounds like a good compromise--room to explore, but also an overall structure.

Karen: The story, or the not-plotting? Because it bugs me not to plot as well; almost too much of a sense that I'm doing something wrong. LOL.

Trisha: I seem to be the opposite of a lot of writers--I can get the middle down okay, but endings are hard.

Tfwalsh: I think it does for me, too, but this time the inspiration is coming by pantsing. :P

The Golden Eagle said...

Lydia: Well, that's what counts. :)

Denise: 30k in a weekend! That is a ton of writing. I imagine the participants are killer at NaNoWriMo.

Thank you!

Patricia: True. "Know thyself"--or, at least know thy characters. :)

Donna: Trying! :)

Nancy: Interesting. Your outlines must be really detailed, if they're like first drafts!

J.W.: Good point--outlines are adaptable, if you need them to be. It sounds like you have a system down!

Siv: That's what I was thinking; the inspiration's there, the words are coming, might as well pants if I have to. :P

Christine: Revisions are hard for me, too.

Traci: It's definitely liberating to be rid of an outline. :) LOL.

Andrea: Awesome about your draft! Many writers here appear to be a combination of pantsers and plotters.

Laughingwolf: Indeed. Don't want those characters to get carried away with themselves--and their story. ;)

TL: My outlines usually go haywire by the end, too, if I've written them.

Charles: LOL. I like the way you put that.

Mark: Awesome way of putting it--as an adventure!