Pantser or Plotter?

April 6, 2018

 I started a new manuscript.

 

Let's do that again.

 

I started a new manuscript!!!! Phew. Now that that's out, let me take a breath. 

 

This will be my 3rd novel (4th if you count the never published 1st novel I wrote that was all kinds of horrid), and I am still trying to feel it out. I've hit chapter five, and the characters are starting to form. I'm beginning to understand their stories, and new twists are coming from every angle. These are all good things, and I'm thankful it's gone smoothly so far. 

 

As I was going through some of my favorite writing blogs this week, I came upon a post about how necessary outlining is to successfully completing a well-rounded story. (Pssh, I say, throwing my hand forward.) The thing is, I think outlining is necessary to a story if it is necessary to the author, but not ALL storytellers need an outline. Me included.

 

Wait, what? You ask. You don't outline your novels before you write them?

 

That answer is an emphatic, no. I'm what they call a Pantser--as in I write by the seat of my pants. I have a general idea for the story premise and a basic understanding for how it will end, but all that middle stuff...I have no idea. Aaand, the end usually changes by the time I get there, too.

 

This scared me in the beginning, because I thought, well, if everyone else is outlining, then I should be, too!! And believe me, I tried it. The problem was that the moment I actually started writing the novel, everything changed. My characters just wouldn't stay the course I had planned for them.

 

I tried re-writing the outline to match my story progress, but this seemed like an enormous waste of time, and I decided to throw it out the window. When I did that, my writing life got so much easier! The pressure was off because I had so much freedom!

 

Now, I consider my first draft my outline. An 80,000-90,000 word outline. All the basic things are there, they just need tuning up. So instead of spending months working on a detailed outline, I spend months going through the manuscript and fixing inconsistencies, adding things to develop characters and fine tuning plot points. 

 

What are you? Pantser or Plotter?

 

If you are a pantser, do you feel pressure to outline?

 

Happy writing!
Amy

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© 2017 by Amy Murray