Pantser or Plotter

The first time I heard the word pantser was in the forums of NaNoWriMo. I thought the word looked odd, but it didn’t take long to figure out what it meant.

Someone who is a pantser is someone who “writes by the seat of the pants” or rather someone who starts writing and just goes where the writing takes them. A plotter on the other hand is someone who plots out what they are writing before they start writing. While some people are extreme ends of one or the other, most people are at least a little bit panster or at least a little bit plotter, plantsers or something like that.

For me it very much depends on what I am working on. With my stories I absolutely must have some sort of direction, but I don’t tend to outline with bullet points and Roman numerals. I write paragraphs about my story. Sometimes I have pages of story outlines. Other times, I have a sentence.

And neither seems to work better.

I remember a conversation with someone where I informed this person that I didn’t outline. I forget the circumstances, but I had with me the plot for a story I planned to write in a series I started almost two decades ago. It was pointed out to me that the one page worth of plot that I had was an outline, just not what I was thinking of as an outline. That statement helped me a lot, because I realized that just because I wasn’t outlining my stories in the way I was taught to outline, didn’t mean that I wasn’t outlining them all the same and that it was okay to outline them this way.

Not counting school assignments where there are clear instructions on how to outline, what is your preferred method of outlining when you want to outline something?

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