Monthly Theme: Pantsing VS Plotting

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Pantsers write “by the seat of their pants”, not following a set structure but letting the story take them on a wild, sometimes chaotic, journey. It is also known as “Discovery Writing”.

Plotters plan out the novel in advance, sometimes in meticulous detail, setting out the story’s structure and following it from beginning to end.

Which of the two are you? Is one way better than another? While I would never dictate how anyone should write, it is true that each method has its pros and its cons, and also that many writers tend to fit somewhere between the two.

Benefits:

Discovery Writing:

  • The characters develop organically and will generally drive the story.
  • Excitement as you explore and experience the world you, as the writer, are creating.
  • The delight of discovering hidden secrets or stumbling upon an unexpected plot twist.

Plotting:

  • Because you know where the story is going, it is easier to keep on track.
  • Scenes can be written out of sequence and pieced together; you can write that scene you’re passionate about.
  • Plotting can help you solve problems with the storyline or characters.
  • Knowing the plot twists and red herrings allows for successful foreshadowing and set-up.

Drawbacks:

Discovery Writing:

  • Without a goal – where is the plot going?
  • The story can run off on a wild tangent.
  • The completed first draft will need further, sometimes multiple, revisions (which will undoubtedly result in sacrificing significant portions of the story).

Plotting:

  • It is easier to get bored of the story as you already know where it is leading.
  • Characters may end up railroaded into following the plot.

Here are some tips and tricks our members shared during our Monday night discussion:

  • It helps to know where the story begins, and have some idea of how it will end.
  • Consider your plot points to be “signposts” designed to move the plot in the right direction.
  • Be flexible: if characters, or the plot, behaves in an unexpected manner, be prepared to move these signposts.
  • Use the first draft of your discovery written novel to determine the structure of the second draft.
  • Many writers (especially those that are also dedicated readers) will find themselves subconsciously following the traditional story structure.

What are you? A plotter? A Pantser? Or a hybrid?
Do you have any tips and tricks of your own?
Share them with us on Twitter: @chchwriters or comment here!
We are also happy to take suggestions for our Monthly themes!

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