When you think of the types of writers our first thoughts probably go to people who either hide their insanity well and those who don’t but the fact remains the same, that at some point or another have to decide what we’re going to type out onto our page. Our methods of doing it may be oh-so-very different…
These writers begin their book with an excellent outline already written and major elements such as the character arcs and major events of the novels completely fleshed out. The level of plotting varies from character and chapter outlines to the above in addition to scene cards highlighting every single scene and the reaction of every character.
Many plotters get the criticism that they aren’t creative or fun writers or anything along those lines because they’ve already planned out every chapter or possibly even scene, of course, this isn’t true because the fact remains that 1) you’re still writing and crafting a beautiful story and 2) you are still dreaming up all the words and actions as you write and finally 3) you’re creating and imagining a whole new world as you plot from a fantastic point of view* that lets you see and know all of your book.
*Please tell me that someone got my puns, I’m sorry I couldn’t resist.
A plotter can be recognised by their stacks of notebooks, endless supplies of sticky notes and uber organised folders of Word and Google Documents.
Being a plotter definitely has its pros: foreshadowing is a piece of cake, plot holes are easily sighted and fixed and writers’ block doesn’t strike mid-draft. The cherry on top? When you go through your book for the first round of editing it’s rarely ever a big fix, mostly just grammar, spelling and cringe lines are being caught out.
Of course you can still change things, it may involve rewriting you outline but if you get brilliant inspiration a plotter can and will still use it not to do so would be like finding a gorgeous diamond on your path only to kick it away and because it’s not on the map.
Famous Plotter: J.K. Rowling author of the Harry Potter novels.
These writers enjoy just sitting down at their computer with no idea what they’re going to write, no plotting, no arcs and no clue about the endgame. The type of writer that lets the plot and characters grow along the way with no plan whatsoever, making foreshadowing a little bit harder but that can be added during editing.
If you’re looking for a panster you’re looking for someone who messages their head reader at 3 AM (and thinks it’s normal which for them it really is) and has entire scenes written across who knows where because the inspiration struck at a paperless moment.
The pros of being a panster are that your writing is quite amusing and any inconsistencies can just be corrected in editing, and not to mention that it’s usually hilarious.
Though panster may very well run into writers’ block somewhere in the middle or realise that the story cannot work, but hey, it was fun to write anyway. These writers usually live by YOLO and are pretty easygoing usually always living life to the fullest. It sounds like a lot of fun.
Famous Plotter: Stephen King, author of The Shining, Later, IT, Rage
This is where most of us writers lay. A little bit of both worlds in which perhaps we have basic outlines without knowing our final chapter, these are writers who do however have a plan that can be quite basic or almost as polished as that of a plotter.
Of course, in an entire spectrum with such extreme extremes we’ll lean closer to one end or another without actually fitting them, or maybe you somehow land perfectly in the middle? Plotter-pantsers and pantser -plotters do indeed exist. Recognisable through no doubt as their dominant writer style but still easy to see that they have a twist or two (random but who here loves plot twists as much as me?)
A Final Note:
These aren’t things set in stone, so don’t put yourself in a box. Your writing style will grow and evolve and you should grow accordingly as a writer.
So where do you stand in this insane spectrum of us insane people? And how would one fall perfectly in the middle? Tell me I wanna know but first a quick note: these aren’t something set in stone so don’t put yourself in a box, try new things and enjoy life, yeah?