From Pantser to Plotter.

While I’m no stranger to sitting down and actually plotting out a book, my most recent efforts have been almost entirety of the pantsing variety. For those less familiar with the nomenclature, plotting is when you sit down and figure out your story from point A to point B before writing it, while pantsing is sort of making it up as you go along, “by the seat of your pants,” as it were. When I wrote Soulless, I had no idea where it would lead me. Even a month before I published Soulless, I wasn’t entirely sure, though I had the main objectives in mind. It turned out okay; I forged through to the end and then worked out the points of plot that didn’t work in the editing stages. This meant taking out scenes, writing up new ones, moving things around and altering details throughout the piece, which worked, but I sometimes wonder if it’s not the easiest way to do things.

So I’ve decided to approach the second book in The Slayer Saga in the complete opposite way, by plotting it out, spending the next few months to outline and plan while using NaNoWriMo to really bust out a rough draft. Part of me thinks I’m crazy for approaching the second book in a different way than the first (how will it change the tone of the books, if at all?), but it just feels right, so I’m going to give it a try. Now, my previous attempts at outlining were pretty simple, reminiscent of outlining for a formal paper, but I’m thinking of somehow incorporating index cards somehow, though it’s all pretty new to me, so who knows how far I’ll delve into that. I think that, as a second book, this more detail-orientated approach will be a big help, because, after all, this is the glue that will hold the two books together. It’ll need to be solid if I want to convince readers to stay on for the long haul.

Who out there is a pantser and who is a plotter? Do you dabble in a little bit of both, and how do you decide which method will be more effective? Anyone have any tricks or protips for someone venturing out into their first real attempt to plot in several years? Let’s get a discussion going.


  1. I’m getting away from writing fiction, but I used to do what you did with Soulless: write from the seat of my pants to start, then break it down and decide what scenes needed to be written. I called it “plantsing,” a combination of plotting and pantsing (turns out, I wasn’t the only one that called it that). I’ve always felt that outlines were a big pain in the backside, at least until I got stuck…

  2. I was a pantser for the first few books but once I started plotting there is no way I could go back. I think it really helps to make sure all the major plot points are in the right places. I worked out recently that I had about 10000 words written in my last outline, so I guess in that sense it’s almost a very short (very rough) first draft 🙂 ps I used to use the program Storybook, but now I use Scriviner

  3. I’m very much a plotter. But, even though I plot just about everything out, I still end up changing scenes, writing new ones, etc during revisions. I’m actually easing up on the plotting. I still have the main points figured out, but just letting it come for the stuff in between.

  4. I think it’s a great idea to try out different methods of planning books. You never know when you might stumble upon something that really works 🙂

    I am a big plotter! I do like to be organised 😀

  5. I took a class last year at RNC called Plotting for Pantsers, taught by Lynn Lorenz. She used a spreadsheet with a line for each chapter. I would call that method “loosely plotting”. I’ve always been a pantser because plotting seems to stifle my creativity, but since I’ve written a couple of books with more complicated plots, I had to learn to plot just a bit. I’ll probably never be as rigid as some of my writer friends because I can’t see the point of writing a short story before writing the book. And Lynn pointed out that some people plot so much, they never get the book written. So I’m kind of a hybrid at this point. My characters do often take over.

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