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The Great Debate: Plotter vs. Pantser by Renayle Fink

Today I welcome writer Renayle Fink onto my blog, who is discusses the pros and cons for plotting vs pantsing.

Big thanks to Renayle for being today’s guest poster, please make sure to check out her links and details at the end of this post. 

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Hi there! Are you thinking of writing a novel, and excited to take your idea and put it on the page? That’s great!

Being an author is hard work, but writing a novel is a marathon that is rewarding the moment you type the words “The End.” That’s when you realize it was worth those long nights.

But first, let’s start at the beginning and figure out how you want to tackle your story. If you want to get started on your novel, do you jump in and crank out a lot of words, or do you create an epic outline?

Great writers like Stephen King are against plotting a novel. He even says that he can tell when a novel has been written with an outline. If you agree, you’re a pantser. You want to get the words out on the page, no matter what.

Other authors, such as Ernest Hemingway, have compared writing to architecture. When an architect is building, they have to go through every piece of material to create the structure and make sure it stays safe.

Plotters are the same way: creating an outline of their work, down to what color the doors should be in a room.

Now, are you looking at this and thinking it’s hard to pick a path?

If you think one way is better than the other, guess what? It doesn’t matter. All you need to do is figure out your personality and style, and you can write your novel either way.

I’m here to give you a couple of examples of being a planner and pantser, and some pros and cons.

Let’s take a look!

The Pantser:

If you love being spontaneous, not second-guessing things, or just love to live life on the fast lane, you want to jump in and start writing.

Most people who love to free write would be a Type-B personality. Those who are easy-going, are flexible with anything, and chill are great pantsers. They enjoy making things up as they go.

Here are the pros and cons of being a pantser:

PROS:

You don’t have to worry about creating deadlines to finish.

You’re not bound to an outline, and you enjoy winging it.

Since you’re writing when you’re inspired, your energy is through the roof.

CONS:

If you don’t have the inspiration, your novel can lag.

Would you want to take the time to go back and edit? This might frustrate you and kill your chill mood.

The Planner:

This is for my Type-A personalities. If you have a planner just for your planner, or you get excited about going to The Container Store, you’re a planner.

Type-A personalities are known to be competitive and workaholic, which works well if you have a deadline for writing a novel.

Having a plan helps you reach that goal faster. You take time to set up each character you have in your story and summarize each chapter.

The pros and cons of being a planner:

PROS:

You know exactly how your novel is going to go.

It’s easy to check off what you’ve completed.

If you need to take a break, you can jump back in with ease.

CONS:

If you decide on a major change in the arc, you might have scrap quite a bit or all of your novel, and that’s not great for your competitive spirit.

You might get bored knowing the ending already.

Wait, you’re thinking: Are those my only two choices?

Of course not! Why not go crazy and be BOTH!

The Plantser!

Yes, I made up that word. But it can be the best thing to happen for new writers. By being a plantser, you are able to have a small outline of a few paragraphs and a couple of characters. Then, you can dive in and fill in the gaps when the mood strikes you.

You know who’s a plantser? Someone by the name of J.K. Rowling! She likes to have a little bit of an outline, but will also wing it as she writes.

So what are the pros and cons of being a plantser?

PROS:

You have a little plan when you’re stuck.

It’s easier to change up the story/scene/character.

CONS:

If there is, I haven’t found it yet! 🙂

I occasionally enjoy being a plantser, especially for short stories or writing prompts. I have also been a planner and a pantser. I like to use each method depending on the story and my mood.

If you are starting out as a writer, this is a great way to figure out your writing style. Try out all three and see what works for you.

Maybe you’re the organizing type but loves to jump on the computer and start writing, or you book a trip out of the country but cannot write a chapter without an outline.

Remember: the most important thing is to get started. So go forth and write!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

About Renayle

Headshot of Writer Renayle FinkRenayle Fink is a blogger and creator of pentothepaper.com, a website where she helps people get into a writing habit and help them reach their goals.

She has written news articles and dabbled in copywriting and graduated from college with a journalism degree.

She lives outside her hometown of Chicago with her hubby and their cat.

Twitter   |   Website   |   Instagram   |   Facebook   |   Pinterest

Today I Watched You Die

Today I Watched You Die is a psychological thriller that asks the question: How long can you keep a secret?

Ayisha Trumble comes from a prominent family and is known as a high-achiever. When she is held at gunpoint by a robber, Ayisha is first seen as a victim and brave.

But as the police investigate, she has a major secret that could solve the case but will make the public turn on her and her family.

She descends into madness trying to cover it up and save her reputation.

 

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This post was written by a guest writer.  Please check out their details above.

Happy writing

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21 comments

  1. Great post! I always find this “debate” amusing, because obviously everyone is going to be different, and you have to find what works for you. When I take a look at my writing history, 100% of the projects I planned out in some detail I actually completed, and 100% of the projects I started without a plan I gave up on partway through, so the choice is quite easy for me!! 😂😂😂

    1. Sounds like a plan! I used to be a pantser for ages but I was struggling to actually finish and would hop to new projects when I hit a snag so started to plan more and more.

      I’m technically a plantser now, but leaning a little heavier on the planning side

    1. I think there’s a lot more plantsers these days, which I think is a good thing. It’s nice to be a little spontaneous but a certain amount of planning is definitely good to have.

      I’m a plantser myself, used to be a pantser but I’m leaning more and more towards plotter now.

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