Recently I stumbled upon an old article I wrote on my German blog some time ago. In this article I asked my readers whether they are plotters or pantsers. So, I thought, why not discussing this topic on my English blog, too?

But first of all we should clarify what these terms mean and what are the differences between those two types of writers. In the end of the article I’d like to answer the question myself and tell you if I’m rather a plotter or a pantser.


Plotters – Designing A Plan To Get From A To B

Plotters love to plan their stories before they write them. They create a plot or outline for their novel and compile character sheets, striclty plan their settings and do worldbuilding before they even start writing. An outline is for a plotter like a map for a hiker. It gets them from A to B, if you know what I mean. For their outline plotters use different plot methods, for example the 7 points story structure by Dan Wells or the snowflake method.

A famous plotter is Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling. She planned her stories stictly, before she started writing.

There are several advantages:

  • They can write faster, because they already have a plan what they want to write about.
  • They aren’t so much in danger to get stuck or suffer from a writer’s block.
  • After writing they don’t have to edit as much as a pantser, as they examined their outline already for logic errors, arc of suspense, etc.

But there are also some disadvantages:

  • They are not as open for new ideas.
  • They first have to spend a lot of time with plotting, before they can actually start writing.
  • Maybe their enthusiasm from the beginning gets lost with time when they write with a plan.

Pantsers – Long Live The Freedom

Pantsers simply don’t do that. They just start writing and discover the story while writing it. They don’t need all this planning and preparing that plotters do. They write more spontaniously and they find designed outlines uncreative. Many pantsers have tried plotting before, but quickly noticed that this is not for them.

One of the most famous pantsers is horror writer Stephen King. In his book “On Writing” he says: “Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground … Stories are rlics, part of an undiscovered, pre-existing world.”

Advantages of being a pantser are:

  • They can always contribute new ideas.
  • They save time, because they immediately start writing.
  • The actual writing is more exciting, because the pantser is just discovering the story.

But there are also some disadvantages:

  • The chance to suffer from writer’s block or get stuck in the story is way bigger.
  • As the ideas come spontaniously, there might be errors in logic and structure or the pantser “babbles” too much.
  • The time that they saved in the beginning, do they take in the end while editing again, as pantsers usually need to edit more than plotters.

So, Mimi … What Are You?

Honestly? I think I’m a plottser. A whaat?! Haha, well I’m a bit of both.

When I write a novel or novella, I always need an outline. I can’t start without one, because that makes me anxious and I am afraid of getting stuck in the middle of the writing process.

But on the other hand, I don’t stick 100% to the outline. I always use new ideas spontaniously and sometimes my characters develop a life of their own and drive the story into another direction than I have planned beforehand.

What about you? Are you a plotter or a pantser or a little of both?