Pantser, Plantser, or Plotter: Which Are You?
Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Have you heard someone call themselves a 'Pantser' one time on a Discord server? Well, you came to the right place! There are all types of writers within the community, but most writers fall into one of the three types: pantser, plotter, or planster.
Today, let's talk about those three types and learn the pros and cons.
Enough with the Games -- What is a “Pantser”?
The term “pantser” describes someone who writes stories by “the seat of their pants,” as Robert Lee Brewer, Senior Editor of Writer's Digest likes to put it. In other words, these writers create on a whim, disregarding outlines for their story.
Just like everything in life, being a “pantser” has pros and cons. Rewardingly, being a pantser means there is no strict, predetermined plot direction you have to follow. You can travel left, you can go right, or you can even make a U-turn and drive down that dirt road you passed! It's just you, your imagination, and your pants running wild.
Now for the con -- DUN DUN DUUUUN!
Okay, it's not as I’m making it, but there are some things to address. With no strict direction, pantsers may get lost. Having the freedom to let your imagination guide them can inadvertently lead you to a dead halt. Writing without a plan can cause stress, demotivation, and produce struggles. Which is why you move on to new ideas right?
We All Know What a “Plotter” is, Skip It...
Whoa, slow down there buckaroo. You'll be shocked by how many people don't know what a plotter is. A plotter is someone who plots out the story or novel; with outlines, diagrams, and story-based questions. What makes them different is the thoroughness, and their map out of their plot before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys).
If you are a plotter, your writing will be meticulous and thorough. You won't get lost or draw blanks because your work is organized, laying out all the plot points of your scenes. You have the advantage over “pantsers” by knowing your beginning, middle, and end.
There is a downside to this: time. Plotters spend plenty of hours on everything. And what if they don’t like the way their story is heading, or suddenly have a better idea for a scene? That'll cost plotters hours of work, starting over their outline. This leads to more hours of writing; as a fellow plotter, let me be the first to tell you that redoing an outline is NOT fun.
Some will argue that another con to the plotter lifestyle is limited imagination and creativity; having it fixed in one direction. I don't believe this to be true. Plotters can have a limitless amount of imagination; they just organize it in a plot structure.
Okay, But What the Heck is a “Plantser” Then?!
A “plantser” would be the lovechild of a plotter and a pantser that (for some reason) came together and have a baby. This kind of writer would make an overview, come up with important key details that push their story forward, and switch gears to freestyle when the pen hits paper (or again, when fingers hit keys). Plantsers are a very diverse group; some only plan the basics, some go in-depth with their characters and write a story solely around them, and the list does not stop there! The key takeaway is that plantsers live life in the fast lane, but keep the GPS to fall back on.
Plantsers do get the best of both worlds. You have the plotter's smarts and the pantser's good looks. But of course, you have the worst in both, too.
Well Dang! Which Do I Choose?
Be you! Even if I was decisive, I couldn't choose for you. It all boils down to your preference and comfort. Take some time to think about how you write. When you dive plotless, head first into a writing project, do you get something going but then go blank, staring at the screen? When you outline your plot does it feel overwhelming and tedious? Knowing yourself is the key to knowing what you need.
We become better writers by finishing our projects, and how do we finish our projects? By staring at a blank word document? Believe it or not, knowing your preferences and the type of writer you help significantly.
So, what do you say, are you a Plotter or a Pantser? Maybe a little of both? Let us know in the comment section!
Why Am I Still Scrolling, Aren't You Done!?
Before you go, I have a challenge: Figure out which type of writer you are (Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser) and write in the opposite style.
Pantsers: Put 30 minutes on a timer and outline the next scene to your WIP. Don't have a WIP? Create a story outline (a genre of your choosing) in those 30 minutes.
Plotters: Put 15 minutes on a timer and do a writing sprint. Give yourself 30 seconds to think of a genre (Don't you dare outline your story … I mean it!) and write! Don't stare, keep writing! If you draw blanks, write that down! Make it so that however you're feeling/doing is what your character is feeling/doing.
Once you're done, post your writing on our Discord
(https://discord.gg/DDfRED5SzE) under #writing
You may be featured in a future post!
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