A panster tends to write their way into a story, without planning the plot in advance.

A plotter does the opposite. They like to plan, then write to that plan.

Neither method is better or worse; both have their benefits and pitfalls.

Pantsing can open writers up to a wild creativity that advance plotting might inhibit. Pantsers don’t know what the road looks like ahead, so they can take a right, a left, or go off-roading if they want. 

On the other hand, pantsers can get lost very easily. With no map, they’re more likely to end up in a dead-end or stranded in the middle of nowhere, and that will require much back-paddling and rewriting.

I’m going to opt for “plantsing”.

I like flying by the seat of my pants, but not all the time. And a tight, cleverly constructed plot is important to me. So, I often start with an overall idea of the plot – but I hold this loosely. I can go rogue here and there, but I always have my signposts to come back to if I get stuck.

Sometimes I start writing with no idea where a story is going to go. For me, this is the most exhilarating way to create, and some of my best writing has happened this way. But often, I have to stand back when I get a few thousand words in, because I start to lose track, dropping threads, forgetting where I’ve been, needing to draw things together before moving on.

And this process can repeat and repeat: I pants it, then I plot. I pants some more, then I plot. Near the end I painstakingly plot, to get every detail right as the story concludes.

Experiment. See what method most suits you. Play.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s