Plotter or Pantser?

plotter noun plot·​ter | \ ˈplä-tər: a writer who plots stories in advance

pantser noun \ ˈpan(t)s·​er: a writer who does not plot stories in advance; rather, they “write by the seat of their pants

This seems to be a typical ice-breaker sort of question between writers: do you plot or do you pants? It’s never really that simple of a binary; most plotters pants at times, and most pantsers do some degree of advance plotting, and some writers are eternally in-between. Even still, I always find people’s answers to be a glimpse of how their brains work, and an interesting insight into the genesis of their stories.

If there is such a thing, I’m a disorganized over-plotter. I tend to overthink and stall when it comes to drafting, waiting to make sure every tiny detail is ironed out before I allow myself the mental space to just be creative and write the words. It’s a procrastination thing, for sure (and obviously I still end up pantsing some things as I draft and revise) but I’m still too new to this to break out of that comfort zone. I do have some strategies worth sharing (partially blurred because SPOILERS).

If I’m stuck somewhere, I outline in my drafting notebook so I can see story beats and important emotional moments all at once. Scrivener has a feature for this but there’s something about writing it by hand that helps my brain engage more deeply.

Early on, I write the entire outline in a spreadsheet with chapter, POV, location, what happens, and what purpose the chapter ultimately serves to the story.

When revising, I like post-it notes so I can tangibly move chapters and scenes around if necessary. Again, there’s a Scrivener feature for this but I like doing it by hand.

I have a Google Keep board that syncs between my phone and my computer. Every writing-related thought gets written down, no matter how minor or where I am. Sometimes, it’s just a first name I hear and like. Other times, it’s an entire scene of dialogue. If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it, and worse, I’ll *remember that I forgot it*, which is just torturous.

Share your thoughts.

copyright jen devon 2015-2022 | images from & used with permission

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