Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are You a Pantser or a Planner?

The upside and downside of both.

So this was supposed to be yesterday's post, but there was no post yesterday because I am a horrible person and @nobody_knows on Twitter got me reading a manga (again), and you should totally follow her because she is awesome and a writer and a NaNoWriMo'er and because I said so and you trust me right? Anyway, I would normally link you the manga (it's called Skip Beat if you're a glutton for punishment) but I won't because then you will be sucked into the same black hole I am in.

Anyway! To the post.
This one is unplanned as I am a horrible horrible planner and a pantser in all things.  


First, I think, we have to define what, exactly, a Planner is. So what is a planner?

Simply, it is someone who plans. A Planner may draw up all kinds of outlines and even model their characters off of pictures found on the internet or in magazines. Planner's will have their novel planned out to almost the minutest detail. 

The Pro's

The pro's of being a planner are, I think, quite obvious.

With a plan, one has less of a chance of hitting writer's block. (When you know where you're going, you can't come to a spot and go "what next?")

Well... that's really the only one I can think of at the moment, but it's a big one.

The Con's

Perfectionism. This may not sound like such a bad thing, but if you are a perfectionist, you will second guess yourself every step of the way. 

The lack of surprise. When you know everything from A to Z, there is no chance for your characters to surprise you, as you are far more liable to Railroad them. 

Writer's Block. It's the opposite of the Pro, but this is the reason I don't plan. If I plan, and I know what's going to happen next, it is impossible, sometimes, for me to continue because I feel I won't do it justice. 

Hum... Well, I never said I was an expert on Planning. 


Pantsing is a term used for writers like myself who "write by the seat of their pants." Often we go at the task with little idea of the outcome. I, myself, usually start with a beginning and an ending in mind, and some vague ideas of the middle. 


Anything can happen. With limits. I love world building. (In that way I am a planner.) Normally I have clearly drawn lines of what can and cannot happen. However, within those limitations, anything can, and probably will, happen. 

The story, and characters, take on a life of their own. No, really. I've experienced this before. Without a plan, it is up to the characters to truly decide what they are going to do. As a writer, I often am bemused, befuzzled, or straight up confused at why my characters do certain things. But you know what? Their motivations always come clear in the end. 

Little Railroading. If you don't know how you're going to get to the end, how can you tell your characters what to do? It's that simple. 


Anything can happen. Yes, this goes in both categories. When anything can happen, some people can freeze, and so nothing happens. 

Writer's Block. Oh lordy, writer's block. My pantsing is probably the reason for 95% of my Writer's Block in the past, and that much in the future, too. Without a plan, it's quite easy to come to a spot and go... "What now?" 

Editing. I haven't gotten to this stage yet, but because I have had not plan, and my angle has change multiple times throughout writing, I know Mortality will need a MAJOR overhaul before I even THINK of getting beta-readers. 

The In-Between

Now, normally, no writer is entirely one or the other. 

Myself? I am most definitely solidly in the Panster group. However, I do LOVE world-building. And that falls entirely into the Planner category. Also, When I reach a point where I say "What now?" I will ask myself, what has to happen before the end. And a mental map is created. Sometimes I even right it down on paper. 

So. Happy Trails! Tomorrow will probably be another Character's on Couches session, because even though the blog spot was that one time... well, I've got more issues that need worked out! Thanks Murphy!


Food for Thought

Are you a planner or a pantser? 
What works best for you?


  1. Very nice post! I myself identify as a pantser, since I usually start a novel with a vague idea of what's going to happen and /maybe/ an idea for an opening scene and couple other moments. However, I've been known to plan. When I found myself stuck on a stalled WIP (like my 2010 and 2011 novels, which I am still trying to complete... Before November. Oh the shame!)

    Glad the hop turned out so successful for you! And it's not just you; I'm considering throwing this year's MC on the couch, literally if I have to. For all her snark and for all that she's been living in my head for months now (perks of writing a series), she doesn't give me much I can use! >.< Best of luck to you with the characters and with NaNo!

    - Murphy

  2. I am a planner... or so I say, but I am also the biggest procrastinator ever, so I write often on the fly/with not nearly the amount of planning I would like there to be. But I do love planning and brainstorming, and would just plain struggle coming up with anything if I worked it scene by scene instead of having an overarching plot!

    Thanks for all the praise btw :P Right back at you, Miss Awesome And Mostly Diligent (:P) Writer/Blogger!

  3. Last year I COMPLETELY "pantsed" it... I found out about NaNoWriMo on October 30th, so that kind of makes sense.

    This year I am trying for the plannig bit... At least now when I don't like a plot element, I can nix it before I write 4,000 words. :)

  4. Awesome post! :) Your pros and cons for each were really interesting!! I think I'm mostly a planner, but with some pantser in me too ;) I plan general plot points etc, but I never fully know everything that's going to happen. Keeps things exciting :D

  5. I just have to try pansting.. but then i need a novel that I can pasts for... Like... I have story ideas but I already PLAN my story ideas like... at least a page in planning--and just for the "premise" (i mean I don't know if I plan excessively but I definitely plan...) anyway yeah... but i really need to try pantsing to expand my writing horizons.