Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday #82: Plotter or Pantser?

This Week's Topic:
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Do you like to make a detailed plan before you start a project? Or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants and make it up as you go along?

By now everyone has probably figured out that I'm a plotter. Before I ever start writing, I begin to generate a detailed outline of everything I want to happen in the story.

That doesn't mean I always stick to the outline. As I'm writing and getting to know the characters better, I begin to see new possibilities. I'll be driving or showering and shiny new plot points occur to me. The outline is more of a tether to keep me moving ahead. If I didn't have any idea where things were going to end up, I don't think I could finish anything. I would be besieged by the worst kind of writer's block. I'm not focused enough to wander that far. I'd never find my way back.

I just finished Stephen King's On Writing and he argues for a less plotted form of writing. He creates a scenario and lets his characters loose to see what they come up with. Hey, he's Stephen King! The guy knows what he's talking about. I can see the logic in his method, but I just can't give up my beautiful plots. Truth? One of the reasons I love writing is because I love coming up with stories. I like slotting events together, making mysteries, and surprising my readers with the unexpected. I think of my books as organic machines, engines that learned how to pump blood and breathe.

It's the same with my choreography. I create the machine, then hope it has the power to live. Sometimes I wish I could be one of those raw artists who is carried away by the passion of it all, who can cover their body in paint and throw themselves at the wall while screaming. But, I need formations, counts, structure, and master plans. It's how my brain works. It's what I make.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Different things work for different people, once you know what works for you you're ahead of the game.

  2. Nice!!! You do a combination of plotting and pantsing, just like I do. Love the organic stuff that happens after the basic structure is figured out. And LOL, your cat photo. ;o)

  3. I LOVE On Writing. Such a good book. It's great that you found what works best for you. I think, ultimately, that's what we each must do.

  4. I usually start my process with an outline and then stray away from it as well. I'v heard a few writers say this. I think that might be one of our creative quirks :)

  5. I mix up plotting and pantsing, but heavy on the plotting. Your method is perfect, so long as it works for YOU.

  6. LOL at that cat!

    I like to know where I'm going, but my brain is far too disorganised for detailed plans. I think creating a map which coordinates everything and fits it all together beautifully can be just as stunning as following impulse. I often wish my brain worked that way.

  7. i think my most recent WIP looks a little like something covered in paint and thrown against a wall - but in a frustrated way, not a passionate way. ha!