Plotting vs Pantsing

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kherezae

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Plotting vs Pantsing
« on: July 09, 2016, 10:25:46 PM »
I think of plotting vs pantsing as a spectrum more than a black and white, either/or situation. On the spectrum, well, I guess I'd fall somewhere around here:

plotter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . plantser? . . x . . . . . . . . . . . . pantser

What about you? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each style of writing?

One major disadvantage of pantsing, I've experienced recently, is when your plot kind of falls apart on you and you realize you have to go back and start over (or at least make some major changes) to get it to work. Even though I'm not full-on pantser, I found I have to completely rework the beginning of my WIP to address some issues that arose as I wrote.

On the other hand, when I try to plot too much from the get-go, I frequently get stuck. A lot of my best ideas arise from the process of writing. There's something about that active process that helps me generate momentum. When I'm just outlining, it feels kind of stagnant.

I'm interested to see your views on the matter!

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Becca

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2016, 03:20:47 AM »
I think I'm a plantser. I plan the basic outline, but leave room in between steps to figure out as I go along. For example, I might know that they travel from point A to point B, but I don't plan the obstacles they face in the process. The counter to your point about the issues with pansting is that if you have the entire plot nailed down every single step of the way, and then as you're writing scene six out of forty, the characters decide to go in a different direction or some other thing that never occurred to you becomes obvous, so now you have to scratch the entire rest of the outline to factor this in. Maybe it's not always /that/ dramatic, but the more detailed the plot, the more you'd need to change if that happens. Plus, I do get bogged down sometimes if I can't figure out certain details, so if I at least have a rough idea, I can start writing and then when I get to/closer to the part I'm struggling with, I'll be better able to figure it out.

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kherezae

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2016, 03:26:10 AM »
So basically you're saying that whether you outline or pants it, your plot can get away with you when you're writing :p

We're doomed either way!

I can certainly see that, though. The writing often takes on a life of its own regardless.

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Sheepy-Pie

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2016, 05:30:38 AM »
I'm a pantser and it's becoming a bit of my downfall :( I am struggling with my WIP cause stuff that maybe should have been planned hasn't and it's all crumbling down. It's no fun.

When I did my first draft of my WIP I had a vague plan of maybe the next 2/3 steps and sometimes an idea later on. I'd number them all out what I had and go through and edit the next thing written down or cross it off. So I ended up vaguely planning 2 steps ahead of what I was writing cause I was in a place where I knew roughly what was happening next. I managed to do a 50k draft like that so it obviously worked for me. I just can't seem to do it this time around :<

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Jedi Knight Muse

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2016, 10:02:28 AM »
Quote
One major disadvantage of pantsing, I've experienced recently, is when your plot kind of falls apart on you and you realize you have to go back and start over (or at least make some major changes) to get it to work. Even though I'm not full-on pantser, I found I have to completely rework the beginning of my WIP to address some issues that arose as I wrote.

This. This is me. But this happens regardless of whether or not I have an outline.  :-\ And it's not even that I realize that I have to go back and start over or make some major changes, it's that I realize something doesn't make sense, or something that I've written has made me hit a wall and i get frustrated as a result.

I don't know if I'm really a plantser or not. I usually try to have an outline and follow that. I remember as a kid I was definitely more of a pantser. I would just write and write and write without caring if any of it actually made sense. Over time, through interaction with other writers online, I've realized that I do need to care whether or not any of it makes sense if I want people to read and give me feedback, and I'm definitely more aware of things like that as a result.

(I can probably expand on this but I have to leave for work.)
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Ahryantah

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2016, 10:10:51 PM »
I'm similar you, kherezae. Pantsing leads to plot frustrations and sluggish middle bits of the novel because I reach a point where I'm not sure where to go next, but my best ideas come to me when I'm winging it. Plotting from the beginning is a sure-fire way of guaranteeing I get bored with the story about two chapters in, or start feeling trapped in an outline that I've suddenly decided I hate.

I haven't come up with a good solution yet. Right now my method is to throw everything on the page, holes and frustrations and sluggish bits and all, until I have a first draft, then go back to fix all the problems. Which means editing takes forever. Which doesn't matter when I'm just writing for fun and don't have any kind of deadline, but if I ever decide to try getting published it'll be a problem. So that's not an ideal solution.


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kherezae

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2016, 10:49:15 PM »
Gah, I feel your pain Ahryantah. Plantsers unite. *exhausted high five*

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briari hallow

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2016, 09:55:24 AM »
I never actually knew what a "panster" was until I read this thread. O__O

For me it depends on what I'm working on. For short stories, I'm a pantser. I think "I want a story about a strange shadow haunting a boy" and start writing until it takes me somewhere.

For my novel, I'm a bit more like Becca, but I don't think I've always been. Originally, I pantsed it. I started in one place and didn't know where it was going - originally, my characters found a horse that had wandered from the South, and they were excited. They were also all living a little shack together in the middle of a desert. Then I sat an plotted a bit, just with a general storyline. Reworked it so many times that at this point, it's all basically plotted, but there's a lot of room for the characters to move. I mean just between my last version and the one I'm currently getting beta-read, a lot of the writing has changed even though it's leading to the same plot. A lot of the events will also remain, just might happen a little bit differently so it's a better read.

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R.K. Wood

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2016, 12:08:39 PM »
I am definitely a plotter through and through. I like to leave some things up to my muse, but as for main characters and the root of the plot, I am a total plotter...pun not intended heh It can have it's downsides sometimes though. Occasionally, I will over plot and get sick of what I'm planning before actually writing, but I find giving myself a break for a few weeks, or more sometimes, brings some inspiration back.
I find, especially in Fantasy, that some things can't not be planned ahead. Things like your world (and the important things that encompass that, such as any laws, wars, history needed to further the story) and the basic instincts and needs of your main characters that drive them through the story are necessary. That might just be me though heh
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Tyrannohotep

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2016, 12:48:00 PM »
I think of myself as more of a plotter than a pantster. But I do most of it in my head rather than writing it all down. I need to know where I'm going with a story for it to go anywhere, but I find that an outline feels more flexible when it's done mentally rather than all written down on paper or a computer document.
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Russ

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2016, 03:08:45 PM »

I used to be primarily a plotter with some pantser instincts, but am now going through a process to change to primarily a pantser.

Let me tell you a short cautionary tale about why.

On my current fantasy WIP I wrote a complete outline, scene by scene from beginning to end.  Then when I had time to write I would come to the computer and write whichever scene I was fired up for, or in the mood for, that day.   Which resulted in a lot of good scenes that good written with passion and movement.

Now I have done that there are a number of scenes that are left, that are necessary but I just don't find exciting and can't get up for.  IT seems a chore to write them because I have already written the ones that were the most fun.

Big mistake on my part.

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Elena

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2016, 12:41:54 PM »
I am a planner and an outliner. If I don't do this, the story will never be finished.

I need order, structure, and the challenge how to achieve the goals from A to C. Yes, sometimes the ending I had envisaged when I started writing proved to be only the ending of a chapter, wanting something more afterwards. Other times I had the beginning and the end and a hole somewhere in the middle, to bridge. But it got bridged.



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Irish_Carbomb

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2016, 02:16:13 PM »
Plantser. Loose outline, but characters carry the story from a to z.

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Harper Jean

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2016, 12:06:44 AM »
Plantser. Loose outline, but characters carry the story from a to z.

This is me as well.

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Irish_Carbomb

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Re: Plotting vs Pantsing
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2016, 07:55:49 PM »
Plantser. Loose outline, but characters carry the story from a to z.

This is me as well.

Have you always written that way? I used to full-on pants and only finished one book. I tried full-on planning and never finished anything. My issue, until combining the two, was finding just enough rigidity to guide the fluidity. Otherwise, my writing just kind of meandered off into plot bunny land on the weirdest tangent conceivable, never to be seen or heard from again. I only discovered how to properly apply plantsing...2 years ago. 0_0