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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are you a plotter or a panster? Do you plot your stories ahead of writing? Or do you write and see what happens? (Writing “by the seat of your pants”.) Why do you work that way? What are the benefits ...and drawbacks?

That's an easy question...I'm a plotter! I love creating character worksheets and detailed outlines with notes on the expected character moods and conflict in a scene. This level of detail is an anomaly in my very unorganized life. I think because I am distracted so easily and flit around like a butterfly from subject to subject (yes, I realize I'm describing an attention deficit issue!) that I need this organization to keep the story moving and assure an ending.

After I've created my outline I continue to work through the sequence of events to be sure my timeline makes sense and that I haven't left holes in the plot. Of course, all that plotting doesn't mean I won't have those issues but it does help me to minimize them.

With that said...I also allow my muse her freedom. I don't use whips and chains on myself (ouch!) to ensure I stick to the outline. If I have a new idea midway through the story (and it's a good one) I work it into the story and make the needed changes in the outline.

The idea of not working off an outline terrifies me! I look at a panster with envy and think how wonderful it would be to just let the story weave its own intricate web. If I did that...well, I can already see the mess I would create...victims screaming from the pages for justice, lead characters walking around blank pages wondering what happened to their character arc and why can't they find their true love or heal past hurts and finally, those secondary characters left floating in limbo. <writer screams loudly and runs from the computer>

Yes. I am a plotter. And I think that's what I'll stick with.

Have a good day everyone.


  1. I wish it would work that way for me. Unfortunately, it didn't

  2. I agree I need a map to keep me on course too. I don't believe in writing pages and pages and then have to dump it all. Waste of time. But, even with some plan jotted down, I do still have to cut pages and chapters. Hmmmm....I guess just fewer pages--??. LOL

  3. I can't even begin to imagine plotting a story. If I could, I wouldn't be stuck high and dry waiting for Hattie to talk to me. I'm about to desert her and find another story to work on. :)

  4. Hey Jenna,

    I'm a Pantser so I'm always amazed with people such as you! I have a friend who is also a plotter and I truly watch her amazed. Welcome to blog Hop.


  5. Thanks for the hop was fun :) and actually having comments made it great.
    Ginger, don't give up on Hattie she's just biding her time...

  6. 'those secondary characters left floating in limbo'. I end up with those all the time! I try to do something with them in the rewrites. :)

  7. I'm an evil plotter too! LOL *Insert evil laugh!*

    Love how your victims could scream from the pages for justice, lead characters walk around blank pages wondering what happened to their character arc and why can't they find their true love or heal past hurts

    *screams with you at the very thought!*


  8. Isn't that funny? How you plot, and are highly organized in writing, yet not in other areas of your life. I'm the exact opposite. Highly organized in life, and not at all in writing!

  9. Hi! Somewhat late to the party :)) but I'm also a plotter. I always need to have an outline before I start working on a book.

    I wish character sheets worked for me, but I tried them and was too bored or didn't have too much information. My characters prefer to reveal their characteristics and the stories of their lives on the pages, when they are talking with their friends, rather than to me. But then again, I'm not their friend, so why should they? I'm just some lady who writes down their story.

    Also, having an outline, liberates me. I write it, I print it out, then I put it away and never look at it while I'm writing the book. I know that it's there and that's enough.I know where I'm going and why, but how is entirely the matter of a chance.