Plotters and Pantster. Those are the two kinds of writers. I’m a pantster. (Well, I’m a hybrid. A lot of times it just depends on what I’m working on. But generally I’m a pantster).
(am I spelling pantster right?? I hope so).
Plotters plot the story before they write it, and Pantsters just take a 40 foot jump into a tub of water and hope it goes well.
*disclaimer: Those are both really general descriptions. I myself would NEVER jump into a tub of water without at least some goggles on. *
But here’s the thing.
Plotters tend get all the glory, and Pantsers are just thrown under the bus. (Not all the time, some people are nice and uplifting). Sure I get it. Everything Plotters do make sense:
- Plan the ending first
- Plot out thing for continuity for quicker writing
- In depth character backgrounds
- world building
- plot structure
Yeah, all those are smart, responsible things to do that make complete logical sense. Except, who ever said the process of making art was meant to be logical???
This is not rocket science or brain surgery.
Every artist has a different creative process. So does every writer. That is why Plotters are Plotters and Pantsters are Pantsters.
But some would disagree. Some would like to run at each other armed to the teeth with pens and notebooks and “how to write your novel” books and start a full-scale war.
(Some of us will sit on the sidelines eating popcorn with our neutral blue t-shirts.)
For those Plotters out there who doubt the Pantsters (or Pantsters who doubt themselves) I have a few things to say. Nothing in particular, just a collection of thoughts. A collection of thoughts about pantsters and their awesomeness.
Why did we get the really dumb name??
Pantsters?? Really??? Can the name get any more dumb?? I know it means “I write by the seat of my pants” but….well I’m wearing shorts right now so I guess I’m a Shortster.
When you meet someone do you learn everything about them in that moment? No. You learn more and more about them at a gradual, natural rate.
When you know someone, do you know EVERYTHING THERE IS EVER TO KNOW ABOUT THEM AND THEIR PAST???? THEIR DEEPEST FEARS AND REGRETS??? CHILDHOOD MEMORIES??
Probably not unless you’re their counselor.
This is the way I see characters. I meet them. They pop up in my brain and say hi. I say hi back. I know only a few things when I first meet them. Appearance probably, demeanor, current situation in life (maybe), and name.
I get to know them through the progression of the story. Even by the end, I may not know everything about them. Do I need to? Only if the story needs it. Maybe their past, their childhood, doesn’t get into the story because they don’t want to talk about it, and that’s that. I’m not going to force it out unless it has to come out.
Maybe their childhood was just dull and no one wants to hear about it.
I’m all for world building. It’s very important, especially if you are writing speculative fiction. But here me out.
World building is very similar to characters to me. It’s exploration. Besides, the world evolves as the plot and characters evolve. Every time I write down a history or something, things change as the plot moves along and I decide things don’t fit, or I need something else etc.
I do enjoy world building though, but I always do it as I go, when I NEED IT REALLY BAD. Like one time I had a lot of characters working in the government. Well, I better know how that government works. It would be impossible to write otherwise.
World building is essential, but not necessarily essential to start writing.
I also don’t think the writer has to know ever single little detail.
Like, ideas (or inspiration, or the muse) are kind of….hard to come by??And also…they just pop up in different ways.
In other words those plot bunnies can be hard to wake up and wrangle.
Every story is different. For some I get minimal inspiration and start writing right away. Some I sit on for a while and let things cook up. Sometimes I think of the endings first, but still have giant holes in the middle. Ideas take time, especially good ones.
In the Green Crow, I had a few plot holes that I sat on for a while. So I “pantstered” my way through. Eventually the ideas showed up.
I got the job done and in a reasonable amount of time. I wrote the thing.
When you are painting, it’s a pretty basic lesson to sketch out what you are painting before you actually paint it. Then you get all the spacing right etc.
But what if you have a gift where you can just paint. No outline, no nothing, and the painting comes out beautifully. Would you be happy if someone told you that you should outline anyway??
EXCUSE ME. That would be rude.
Yeah, outlining makes more sense. But if you (that wonderful artist) outline, it might not work for you. You might feel confined, your paintings might feel stifled, YOU might feel stifled and might end up hating painting altogether all because someone told you to change your process.
Don’t tell someone to change their process.
Now, you can always improve your process, but that takes time and exploration. What works for someone else may not work for you.
I would also like to raise a glass to all the Plotters out there, for being to so organized and efficient. Cheers *clinks glass*.