Are you a plotter or a pantser?
There are countless blog posts arguing the pros and cons, hundreds of authors who’ve staunchly declared for a side.
Why must it be one or the other?
I freely admit: I pantsed the first draft of Above Ground. I knew where I wanted the story to go, but each week when I sat to write the next chapter, a part of me didn’t know what would happen.
Yes, that’s how I ended up with a (pointless) scene where a werepenguin eats a cheese puff.
That first draft was a badly structured nightmare of inconsistencies and pointless scenes. I had to write an outline from scratch and perform drastic surgery that took as long as writing the draft in the first place. While doing so I vowed: never again.
I vowed that I would be Team Plotter, all the way.
But now that I’m busy hammering out the outline of a second novel, I’ve come to miss the liberty of pantsing. The looseness of spirit. The “I’ll worry about this not making sense later”.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m enjoying outlining. It has saved me from writing (and deleting) pointless scenes. It has made me think about world building, character motivation, and theme – all of which I often neglect.
But writing the outline first is a subtle kind of torture. The closer the outline gets to where I want it to be, the harder it is to resist the temptation to just go for it and write. The only thing holding me back is the knowledge that I haven’t quite figured out the story yet.
But what’s the point in picking sides?
We are writers; we challenge ourselves. We take utterly scary things like zombies and turn them into short stories!
Plotting? Pantsing? I refuse to fit one box, to pick one side.
While I’m plotting Novel #2, I’m going to start pantsing Novel #3, and who knows — maybe I’ll write Novel #4 backwards whilst asleep, hanging upside down from a eucalyptus tree.
What about you?