Get in line

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Guess what I am thinking about… I’ll put it in a limerick

I once saw a man that got his pants in a knot…
he was a writer that started to plot
He plotted away and
got his way
his love for pantsing… he forgot

Of course. An authors blog would not be complete with at least one discussion of plotters and pantsers. The plotters are the people who outline. They create characters and arcs and the story on paper. Without having to put a word into their novel. Pantsers sit down and write.They are free spirited and sometimes too much. Creativity gets a boost. They are renowned for being the ones that will more often than not hit the dreaded BLOCK.
(it does look more intimidating with capital letters) The other valid criticism is that the pantsers have more editing to be done. I guess someone should tell that to Lee Child. He is a famous pantser that has claimed to have not edited one of his novels. I suppose he had not meant spelling as that is mandatory.

I have a saying about outlining and pantsing
We all a plot. You may plot on white and I will plot in grey… matter.

So, you got me. I am a pantser. How couldn’t I be? I know it is a subjective matter, but it works for me. I sit down and write. Have I had bumps? Yes, very seldom though. I have not met the BLOCK yet. I don’t think I will. My stories are mere destinations and climatic points. I won’t say I do not outline. I am just good at keeping my ideas safe in my mind. I think about my story daily. So, in a sense it is outlining, but even that is not my secret for keeping my first novel alive without a block. My story started on an impulse. I was inspired by TV and video games. Not even a novel.(gasp) I just knew the ending from very early on. It is something I worked on for almost a year only in my mind.(the ending) I have never written it down. I have never changed it. The ending is my destination and the body… that is my road trip. It is my journey and I love every second of it.

I am not saying that outliners are better or worse. It is just something I don’t want to do. When I write it is like a movie playing in my mind. Outliners are the ones that have the fanciest GPS in their car. Telling them exactly how the trip is going to work, but many of them also do a little pantsing. It is only natural. Of course you get your extremists that won’t agree with me. What I do know is that both types of writers will face the same challenges. If you are an outliner… I highly recommend reading KM Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. She is hands down the best teacher out there I know  and to top it off… a great author.

The name outline can mislead you. It is not the outside that is important, but the main thread. Get a good idea of where the novel is heading. It will be good if you start by thinking of possible endings. Also keep themes in mind. Thus, keep in line. This goes for both types of writers.

Outliners can get caught up in their ways and that can limit the potential of a great story. My brother is a pantser who told me that he is turning. I respect that… from a distance. Doesn’t matter what kind of writer you are. You should weigh up the odds and don’t forget your passion. If either pantsing or outlining is causing trouble in your writing. Stop and search for balance.

Pssst, pantsers, I did not plot this post.

  1. Morné Fouché says:

    What many pantsers fail to see is that the outlining is *part* of the creative process and therefore it’s part of the storytelling.

    It’s therefore not an inhibiting thing to do. It just provides a good amount of certainty and structure before the first draft is done. Some things a plotter does in the outline, a pantser will most likely do only after the first draft.

    I see outlining as working smarter instead of working harder, but the degree of detail in the outline can obviously vary greatly.


    • stefooch says:

      I wil not write an outline. Not before nor after my novels have been written. It is not a necassary part of the writing process. It is method of writing. Saying that pantsers will outline is a lie. At least if you are reffering to the clasic sense of outlining. It is exactly the same amount of work. The little more editing is counterbalanced with the little more planning.


      • Morné Fouché says:

        I’m not saying pantsers will outline – I’m refering to the amount of rewriting and fixing that has to be done to the first draft. The level of completion is further for the plotter after the first draft is done.


      • stefooch says:

        Still disputable. You know what really sucks, if there is a major outlining error. That can cause double the work for an outliner. Saying that pantsers aren’t as complete after a first draft is not necessarily true. I get the idea that the real pantsers aren’t the ones that just write. They real pantsers actually know theirs story by heart. They ponder their story more and their outline is in their mind, but they are flexible enough to change details for enhanced creativity. So, the method does not make you quicker. Some guys need a grocery list… I get that. Other’s don’t.


      • stefooch says:

        And even if my first draft isn’t complete as an outliners. I will have rewritten mine three times while he is still juggling with maps and ideas.


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