Are you a panster or a no pantser? Or, are you somewhere in- between like me?
Pantsers, writers who don’t use outlines, write “by the seat of their pants.” Other writers, the no pantsers, use outlines. Each way of writing has its own advantages and disadvantages.
ADVANTAGES OF A PANTSER
- Writing is livelier.
- Characters “take over” the story and move it in unexpected directions, which can surprise the writer and delight readers.
- New character POVs can appear, along with new, and surprising plots.
DISADVANTAGES OF A PANTSER
- The plot is liable to have holes in it, requiring lots of revision as the writer works out plot problems.
- Writing will often be too wordy. This means lots of cutting back on unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.
- Some scenes may appear in the initial draft that may have to be deleted later. Also, some plot angles and unbelievable storylines may have to be cut–more work, more revision.
ADVANTAGES OF A NO PANTSER
- The writer knows every detail of where his/her story is going.
- Plot problems have been worked out before the story is written. This saves time for the writer and helps him/her write faster.
DISADVANTAGES OF A NO PANSTER
- Writers are locked into their outline, limiting other plot options.
- If the writer isn’t careful, outlined writing can sound stiff.
As I mentioned earlier, some writers are like me: in-between the two methods. What do I mean by this? How I wrote my Southern Sons-Dixie Daughters series will explain.
As I sat at my laptop to begin my first book in the series, I knew how the series would begin and how it would end. However, I had no idea what would happen in the middle.
Then, after I wrote my first few chapters, the story “got legs” and took off. New characters popped up along the way, new subplots and plot complications arose. It was great fun, releasing my characters to do whatever they wanted.
One character, though, proved stubborn—a Creole fellow named Philippe. I tried hard to enlist him in the Confederate Navy. I even wrote his navy scenes. With every writing, though, Philippe kept screaming at me: “Army! Put me in the Army!” When I finally listened to him, his story took off like a cannon shot across a ship’s bow.
The outlining came in when I wrote the novel’s chronology. I needed to be sure that my characters “did their thing” within the right historical time frame. Their stories revolved around the historical events they experienced. I didn’t tell them what to do, they told me what they wanted to do and how they wanted to respond to these events.
So, are you a pantser, a no pantser, or somewhere in-between? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Feel free to share them in the comments.