Welcome Wednesday – Plotter or Pantser?

Welcome Wednesday – Plotter or Pantser?

Welcome to this week’s edition of Welcome Wednesdays!

Today I’m asking all you authors to tell us a little bit about the way you write.

Are you a plotter?  Do you meticulously outline every scene of your books?  Are your walls covered with index cards?  Do you have a three-hundred page notebook with every detail of every character, from your hero down to the homeless guy at the bus stop who was mentioned once, twelve books ago, and never seen again?

Or are you a pantser?  Do you just write and let the characters take you wherever they want to go, and hope it all makes sense in the end?

I’ll begin…

I’m far more of a pantser.  I have a general idea of what the story is, and where it will end (and sometimes a clear idea of the climax), but the road to that ending is not defined at all to begin with.  I just start writing and see what roadblocks and detours crop up, what subplots appear, which minor characters demand more attention.

Now it’s your turn!  Tell us your process, and be sure to leave a link so we can find out more about you and your books!

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7 Replies to “Welcome Wednesday – Plotter or Pantser?”

  1. I’m a little of both. I have the general outline of the book in mind, but I don’t always have the details mapped out. Sometimes it changes. Things take their own turn, sometimes it comes out better. I try to listen to my characters. They can tell me if I’m on the right track.

    My book, Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident is available here:


  2. I outline the overall plot, including key points and what I want to get out of each chapter. I may even pencil in some vivid scenes that occur to me.
    Then I write it, letting things flow naturally. As I go along, things crop up that either reinforce where I planned to go, or make me rethink it.

    My latest military scifi book, Liberty, kept its overall framework, but how they got to the end bore little resemblance to how I originally imagined it. Even things like the name Legion Libertus came right at the very end.
    I particularly enjoyed watching the two leads, Commander Olivia Johnson and The Indescribable Joy of Destruction, growing from enemies to friends. The playful nature of the warship wasn’t something I had planned.

  3. I’m a pantser, too. I know generally what I want to have happen,and also have a few ‘pivotal’ scenes that I want to include. But getting from one major scene to the next is where the actual storytelling happens, as I “wing it” from Point A to Point B. And that “winging it” can create some story elements that surprise me. This method is especially true in two of my series, It Takes a Thief (heist/caper/Robin-Hood-esque) and Timekeepers (middle-grade time travel). The first of It Takes a THief is free, if anyone would like to see if I have successfully “winged” my way through the story. 😀 https://www.amazon.com/It-Takes-a-Thief-ebook/dp/B00ANDDP2Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1355411380&sr=1-1&keywords=it+takes+a+thief#nav-subnav

  4. I used to be a pantser and…it didn’t go well. Now, I’m a plotter. It helps keep me motivated while allowing me more creative freedom to add in little twists because I know I’m going to get to Point B anyway. It also helps me clear things up such as:

    1. Is this a complete story?
    2. Have my characters grown over the course of the book?
    3. Are there any dull parts that can be tightened up?

    Plotting also helps me recall when something happened in a book because I have the chapter notes just beside the written chapter. This saves time while I’m writing because I don’t have to go back and reread whole chapters to remember details.

    The Full Moon was the first book I plotted and the writing process was so much smoother than my other books that I pantsed. Check it out for only $0.99: https://www.amazon.com/Full-Moon-Under-Book-ebook/dp/B017QGB07W

  5. Plotter, though I’m not chained to my outlines. I look at plotting like planning a road trip: I want to drive from point A to point B and hit these major attractions along the way, but along the way, if I see an interesting side road or want to stop and check out the World’s Largest Rubber Band Ball or whatever grabs my interest, I do so while still keeping in mind my overall direction. This way I can set out from Phoenix to drive to New York and not end up in Alaska or Mexico City, and still have fun exploring along the way.

    I usually do brief sentences or bullet points with the major scenes and explanations of what’s going on. For my current project, I’m trying a method described in Do the Work by Steven Pressfield, where you put your whole outline on a single sheet of paper by focusing on the theme, the end, the beginning, the middle, and the major things that happen in between. Excellent book for getting difficult projects (writing or otherwise) done.

    My books: http://www.kyrahalland.com/books.html
    My blog: http://www.kyrahalland.com/blog

  6. I can wing short stories or novellas, but although I’m a plotter, I’m not chained to my outlines. The story never goes exactly the way I envison. To me plotting is a road trip: I want to drive from point A to point B and maybe I know a couple of side tracks. I start out plotting with brief sentences or bullet poins for a scene. Usually a few chapters in the characters take charge and the bullet points are full fledged drafts. I do some pre-planning as far as setting up a few basic pieces of data for the main characters and have a spread sheet that is filled in and modified as other characters appear and/or develop. The mix of structure and exploration keeps me on track without having to do a lot of rewrites. And let me say I hate rewrites.

    My books at Goodreads or Amazon Author Page Be sure to check out my latest release, Windmaster created using the document and explore approach.

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