Ahh the age old question posed to writers by writers. Are you a planner or pantser? This refers to how a writer writes their stories or novels. Do they plan every step, make a complicated outline, list their characters with their flaws and triumphs, and have the plot ironed out? Or do they have a vague idea with vague characters that they develop and iron out as they write?
Most writers classify themselves as one or the other. For some, it’s very obvious. You either plan or you don’t. But I’m a plantser. I both outline and still fly by the seat of my pants (where the term pantser originated) and I think there’s merits to both methods.
Here’s some pros and cons of being a PLANNER.
- You know what you’re doing, making cranking out the word count easier
- You know your characters inside and out, so you won’t have them do things out of character unless it’s part of the plot
- Outlining counts towards NaNo’s word count
- Knowing what happens in the plot and mapping the settings helps make it less confusing
- You can feel restricted in your creativity since you have everything planned
- Since everything is mapped out, it can be hard to get the inspiration to start flowing
Here’s some pros and cons of being a PANTSER.
- Random bouts of inspiration can take the story in new ways you might have never planned
- Makes it easier to get back into the story when returning to writing after breaks
- Can really make you think about what sort of choices a character would make in the moment
- Sometimes small ideas can become larger than life
- Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what happens next
- When inspiration doesn’t hit, you have no plans to fall back on
Honestly, I see the benefits in both. What makes me a “plantser”is that I make a very vague outline. These characters go here and do this, they encounter a conflict and then go here. I do tend to build my characters heavily, so I know who they are and what they’d do in certain situations, but I don’t have those situations lined out exactly.
Which ever type of writer you are, don’t feel you have to change to fit a certain stereotype. I tried just planning and I got bored with the story since I already knew exactly what was happening and going to happen. I tried just flying by the seat of my pants and ended up stuck because I was uninspired and had no idea what to do next. Just find what works for you, and run with it.
As always, stay creative my friends,