This month our topic is "Are you a Plotter (outliner) or a Panster (seat-of-the-pants) writer? Why?"
Also, if any of these are helpful to you, print them or save them. You never know when something will disappear online. An article I planned to use for this post was available two days ago, but not today.
The 8 C’s of Plotting: Worksheets (Lara Willard)
- Curve ball
A Date with Kate – Plotting (Kate Walker)
Training Yourself as a Plotter
- Read Read Read – learn the plots that make successful romances in the past and in the present – and the ones that have failed.
- Watch soaps/dramas/films – stop it halfway – or at the end of the episode – ask yourself: Where is it going? Who will end up with whom?
- Read newspapers/magazines/watch people stories on TV – use them as your characters - see if you can see what will happen – check it against reality.
- How could you rework a fairy story?
- With every story you read, watch, hear - think about what was behind it, who is involved, why it happened - and consider what will happen next.
The Great Debate: Plotting Versus Pantsing (DB Jackson)
First, let me say this: Each writer has to find his or her own way. Between the extremes of no advanced plotting whatsoever and outlining down to the most minute detail, lies a broad spectrum of possible approaches….
Second, that spectrum I mentioned really does provide a myriad of possible approaches. I think there are few writers out there who are pure pantsers or pure plotters.
And third, the term “organic” means different things to different people. I believe that on some level ALL writing is organic.
Finally, allow me to say this: I think that for aspiring writers especially, some level of plot outlining makes sense.
How Plotting & Pantsering Affects Everything You Write, Pt 1 (Vince Moore)
Pantsering and plotting are similar to being left or right handed. Each person tends to favor a dominate hand and yet each individual also tends to make ample use of both hands.
Types of Pantsers and Plotters:
- Type I Plotter: this is a writer who was born a plotter. This writer may even think plotting is the only way to write.
- Type II Adult-onset Plotter: this I believe is the most common type of plotter. Most Type II’s have tried pantsering and can’t make it work.
- Type I Pantser: I think almost all pantsers are lifelong type I’s. I have yet to meet a pantser who was once a plotter but had to give it up
- The Plotting Pantser: this is a pantser who may be ‘passing as a plotter’. She keeps changing the plot as new ideas arise with almost every chapter.
- The Pantsering Plotter: this is a plotter who may be passing as a pantser. She starts writing without a plot in true pantsering fashion but then keeps building a plot on the back end of whatever she has written.
How to Write a Book ( OJ Omololu)
9 Steps for Plotting Fiction (Taken from the Verla Kay Message Boards)
- Triggering event
- First major turning point
- Connect the dots
- Negative turning point
- Antagonist wins
- Protagonist wins
Nanowrimo Prep: The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid (Alexandra Sokoloff)
Make two blank structure grids, one for the movie you have chosen from your master list to analyze, and one for your WIP (Work In Progress). You can just do a structure grid on a piece of paper for the movie you’ve chosen to analyze, but also do a large corkboard or cardboard structure grid for your WIP. You can fill out one structure grid while you watch the movie you’ve chosen.
Get a pack of index cards or Post Its and write down all the scenes you know about your story, and where possible, pin them onto your WIP structure grid in approximately the place they will occur.
The Outline Dilemma—Plotting vs. Pantsing (Beth Hill)
- Plotters can write character-driven or plot-driven stories.
- It’s quite likely that plotters know the story’s ending.
- A lot of plotting is imagining what if.
- The pantsers often just begin writing with the smallest kernel of a plot or with only the shadow of a character that snares their interest.
- If you’ve got sticky notes posted as reminders on every surface of your office, you’re probably a pantser.
- Pantsers may actually have more notes in the margins of their manuscripts than plotters will (since plotters keep their notes in the outline)...
- Pantsers...may face plot tangles after writing the first draft that the plotter doesn’t face
- Pantsers also enjoy the excitement and enthusiasm of putting story to paper without first hashing through the story.
...there is no right method.
You’re the writer. Use your tools in ways that make you succeed.
Planners Versus Pantsers (Suzanne Church)
I've tried both techniques. I tend to write short fiction as a pantser and novels as a planner.
In my opinion, two books on planning and analyzing plot and structure are particularly helpful for Planners. Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.
… my favorite planning tool…Excel to create a multi-worksheet planning file. … Essentially my spreadsheet is my bible (or codex if you prefer) and can be especially helpful if I need to set the novel aside for a while.
Plotter or Pantser: The Best of Both Worlds (Cindi Myers)
By now you’ve probably identified yourself as either a plotter or a pantser. Whichever approach works for you, I’m convinced you can learn from writers who take a different approach.
If you’re a plotter, try flying by the seat of your pants. Maybe not for a whole book. But every once in a while... Ask your characters to tell you what they’re going to do next.
If you’re a pantser, try plotting out a chapter, then writing it. See if it helps you write more quickly or more easily. Experiment. See if thinking about your book as a whole at the beginning of the process helps shorten the rewriting phase.
There’s no one way that’s right or wrong. The important thing is to write the book. It doesn’t really matter how you get there. But don’t be afraid to experiment with writing methods as a way to challenge yourself and keep your creativity fresh.
Plotters, Pantser,and Percolators (Karyn Henley)
I've discovered that I’m more of a Percolator. Percolating is a mixture of pantsing and a plotting. Here’s how it works for me: I dedicate a composition book to the project I’m starting. Then I go through Donald Maass’s Writing 21st Century Fiction or his Breakout Novel Workbook, both of which ask thought-stimulating questions that I apply to my specific story. I let my story idea percolate through each question, and I jot answers in my comp book. Without fail, I discover characters and motivation, see possible scenes, hear dialogue, and so on.
Story Planning Worksheets (Jami Gold)
Jami has lots of great worksheets. You’ll have to go to her page to access these:
- Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheet (plot arc oriented)
- Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering Beat Sheet (plot arc oriented)
- Master Beat Sheet Combining Save the Cat and Story Engineering (plot arc oriented)
- Jami Gold’s Basic Beat Sheet (plot arc oriented and stripped down to basics)
- Jami Gold’s Scrivener Template for the Basic Beat Sheet
- Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure Beat Sheet (character arc oriented)
- Jami Gold’s Romance Beat Sheet (romance arc oriented)
- Jami Gold’s Elements of a Good Scene Checklist
- Jami Gold’s Elements of a Good Scene Worksheet
To Plot Or Not To Plot…That Is The Question (Destiny)
Are You A Pantser?
- Do you commence a new novel based solely on an idea, character or sentence?
- Do you often say, “I let the book tell me where it’s going.”?
- Do you view writing as taking a road trip with only a vague destination in mind?
Are You a Plotter?
- Do you get inspired and then write an outline?
- Do you get giddy doing chapter summaries?
- Does the thought of not knowing whether your character is a mustard or mayo person make you anxious?
…there is no wrong or right way to write you novel. The bottom line is you have to write it! Whatever methods you take to get to that finish line is the right way for you.
The Ultimate Plotting Tool for Pantsers: Your Novel in 9 Sentences (Joel D Canfield)
A tool he learned from Larry Brooks…stating each of these in a single sentence will give you a clear easy-to-follow path through your novel.
- The Hook
- The Setup
- The First Plot Point
- Response (including First Pinch Point)
- The Midpoint
- Attack (including Second Pinch Point)
- The Second Plot Point (including the “All is Lost” Moment)
Did you find any of these helpful? Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination of both?