Plotter Shmotter, Pantser Plantser

If you’ve been in the writing community for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of plotters and pantsers — people who plot their stories before they write them, and people who write by the seat of their pants.

Thing is, from talking to a lot of writers, it seems like everyone does a mix of things. This pantser outlines a little in advance as they go, or has a short list of major plot points when they start writing. A plotter may use a super loose outline, or knows that nearly everything on it will change by the end. So though most people pick sides like some odd writing sports team, it almost seems like they’re nonexistent.

What I have noticed, though, is that a lot of people who identify as pantsers end up spending a lot of time revising, and tend to enjoy it. And a lot of outliners take their time to create highly polished first drafts and avoid tedious revision they dislike. So, instead of pantsers vs. plotters struggling in an age-old writerly battle, I think something more accurate might be drafters and revisers.

How about you? Do you think you’re a drafter or a reviser? Or do you think I’m totally wrong, and you’re a pantser or a plotter?

Bacon, out.

39 thoughts on “Plotter Shmotter, Pantser Plantser

  1. I call myself a framer… I work out the big points in most chapters. Then let the pantser loose within that framework. When writing mysteries, dropping clues, and tracking down killers there is not much room for mistakes. And like you said letting loose from the beginning would mean revising–which I’m okay with–and deleting pages and pages of work–which I’m not.

    Loved the post. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohh, I like that term, “framer!” Maybe I’ll adopt it since I do about the same thing, but it’s funny–I love to revise and re-write the book, and I hate drafting. Though I write fantasy as opposed to mystery, so that might have something to do with it! It’s funny how individual writers are in their process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My first drafts are messy, but I have all the elements of the plot. I hate revising (other than an anal need to find typos), so I guess I’m a framer. And each book is different, with different needs.
    Whatever works!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have the (bad?) habit of self-editing as I write – which makes the writing process painfully slow. But I guess that would put me in the group that writes polished first drafts? I love your way of putting it. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a drafter! But I have made quite a few changes in my second draft, so maybe I’m a reviser too… it’s a spectrum that we all fall on somewhere I suppose. I’m definitely not a pantser though, I can only imagine the horrendous mess I’d get myself into if I didn’t have a plan before I started :-D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very true, there’s a HUGE spectrum of where people land as a writer! Everyone’s such an individual, it’s amazing that we’re all somehow here, writing words.
      That’s so funny because I’m hands-down a pantser and would totally not make it through a book with a full outline! That’s awesome you found what works, though. :D


  5. This is so true! Personally I flip flop between the two depending on what project I’m working on. And since I write alternate world fantasy, I’ll frequently spend weeks or even months on worldbuilding but only spend a couple days on the actual outline.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think your take on the pantser versus plotter is pretty accurate. I guess I would be a drafter. I tend to write polished first drafts from a skeletal proto-draft, but I spend significant time preventing holes in plot and planning to avoid them.
    At last year’s Philadelphia Writers’ Conference the opening speaker Kelly Simmons gave a humorous and informative speech about the hats writers wear, complete with props. She had like twenty hats in her box from the architect, (a ruler and protractor duct taped to a ball cap) to the snob (a beret). The end message was as long as we work through the obstacles that keep us from writing and push through our personal challenges it doesn’t really matter what hat we wear, except for those “writers” who belittle others or can’t get past their own egos. She had a couple hats for them too- one with a stuffed donkey attached the other with a nozzled bottle that helps women smell like a spring day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am more pantser than plotter, but I think I put more effort into my scenes as I’m initially writing them than most pantsers do. I don’t worry about shutting down my inner editor anymore. The editor is great at keeping me digging for the right description of characters’ behaviors and actions, and that leads to better, livelier, more finished scenes as I’m writing my initial draft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so interesting! I’m a person who HAS to shut down their inner critic because I won’t get past the first chapter otherwise. I actually just had to move onto a different project because my inner editor wouldn’t shut up about it! It’s awesome you’ve found out what works for you!


  8. I’m a bit of both and, like you, don’t understand the need to categorize people as one or the other. I find as I learn more it’s easier for me to plan a bit but I still love discovering the meat of my story as I write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the exact way that I write!!! I definitely find that talking with like-minded individuals helps me learn methods that might better work for me, but there’s definitely no need for exclusive boxes. :)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think you’re completely right. It’s a spectrum, and we all fit somewhere along it. I’m more of a plotter, but my plot always evolves. The ultimate plotter, a pure plotter at the far end of the spectrum, would be someone whose plot doesn’t change a lick, and when in the history of writing has that ever happened? I think that makes me more of a drafter?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, no kidding! If a pure plotter existed, they would definitely be a sight to behold. But that’s awesome! I’m more of a reviser myself, but it’d be nice if some day my brain would let me be a drafter.


  10. I like the idea of thinking of Pantsing/Plotting as a spectrum. I’m still figuring out what’s “ideal” for me, but right now I’m writing a novel that’s expanding on a short story that I pantsed, so it’s an interesting mix of the two.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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