Thursday, April 7, 2011

Plotter or Pantser

Are you a plotter or a panster?
This is a fundamental question posed to writers. Does the author plan or outline or know before she writes the book how the story will play out on the pages? OR does she sit down and just begin writing and let the characters, plot, etc roll out as she writes?

I don't know why we ask this question of fellow writers, just curious to learn tips on how to get that book down on the page perhaps. Readers are interested in how a book develops too.

I have found that plotters are at one end of the extreme and pantsers are at the other. I, like many writers, are in the middle. I don't make a three page outline or a 35 page outline as one author told me, nor do I just jump in willy nilly with no idea how the story will go.

Plotter ------------------------------------------ME---------------------------Pantser

I do scribble down ten to fifteen key ideas to take me in the direction from the beginning of the story to the end. When I begin writing I know the setting and the time frame and I have had the story bubbling up in my head for days. I turn over ideas while I am showering, walking, washing dishes, and right before going to sleep at night (which is annoying). When I sit down to write, I can't wait to get started on the rough draft and race to the end. Then I go back and flesh out the story improving, adding, deleting, etc.

Writing a book is a process. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just write the way that works best for you...plotter, pantser, or in between.

To read other authors' methods of writing click here.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

In part I think I am a plotter. But first the character appears. I'm not even certain what's wrong. But slowly over time, the character and her/his world grow inside my head. I'm watching them while vacuuming, washing the car, folding laundry. Once I've got a rough idea of the ending I begin to write. I like to have a solid opening chapter before continuing on. Then there's no end to how many drafts I do before I'm really connected to the POV. Wow, I love writing!

Thanks for asking JQ!

Anonymous said...

I'm a little of both and I hardly ever write a book in sequence. I jot ideas down as they come to me, and sometimes scenes that come near the end of the story are the first written!

Roseanne Dowell said...

I also find myself jotting down notes, especially at night while trying to sleep. Sometime Muse is so annoying that I have to get up and write. I've learned a long time ago not to ignore it and trust the words to memory.

Lawna Mackie said...

That's a good way of placing yourself...somewhere in between. I also have a lot of scribbled sticky notes and scraps of paper with ideas on them.

I especially like how you described yourself "racing to the end". Very inspirational.

Lawna Mackie

Megan Johns said...

Yes, I agreee. Being in the middle sounds a good place to be

Unknown said...

I'm happy you have a choice and hover in the middle of plotting and pantsing. I don't have that option. Plotting just doesn't work for me. I have to have the characters relay the story, and it's sort of like when I was a kid and my mom read to me. I couldn't wait to see how the story played out.

BTW...I just bought your book and so far, I'm enjoying it. After all the great praise you've received, I have to weigh in when I finish.

Jenna Storm said...

We need to come up with a unique name for those who are in the middle! As I'm sure there are many. I am a plotter. I do get inspiration at all different times and I have a small notebook that I jot ideas into. It's interesting to read different ways that authors work. Thanks for sharing.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks everyone for taking time to share your writing process. It is interesting to compare notes.

@Ginger--Thanks for your purchase of Sunshine Boulevard. You are brave..LOL..Please do weigh in when you finish.

JoAnne Kenrick said...

Nice blog post, and it made me giggle in agreement -- a fellow in-betweener :) And, I too find ideas ramming themselves into my brain while doing the mundane, daily chores.

Unknown said...

I would love to lean towards the sanity end, like you (somehwere in the middle)--sadly, I have to say, I'm somewhere near the far right. I'm glad writing takes all kinds.

I'm doing the Author Blog Hop today too. My answer to today's question was:
Plotter or Pantser - Does it Matter?

Angelika Devlyn said...

Hi there! I am a plotter, although saying that, a bit of both sounds more comfortable ) I agree there is no right or wrong way!

Oh keep a pen by the bed at all times! Without fail. You've been officially told, by someone who totally understands the 'thinking whilst you think you are not thinking about writing'...LOL

It never goes away!

J.Q. Rose said...

@Angelika...I would like to keep a pen by the bed, but I can't see to write in the dark and my DH would not appreciate flipping on the light at 1 a.m.!! And I am too lazy to get up and write it down...! Ah, the joys of writing.

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