Every writer, at some point, is asked a pivotal question: “Are you a planner or a pantser?” While the planner meticulously outlines each scene, the pantser takes a deep breath and dives into the narrative without a plan. Here’s what you need to know about being a pantser.
1. What Does ‘Pantser’ Mean?
Derived from the phrase “flying by the seat of your pants,” a pantser is someone who writes without a detailed outline, allowing the story to develop organically.
2. The Pros of Pantsing:
- Freedom and Flexibility: Without a fixed blueprint, pantsers enjoy the liberty to let the story take unexpected turns.
- Discover as You Write: Many pantsers feel that the act of writing helps them discover the story. They often experience their narratives as if they were readers themselves.Example: George R.R. Martin, the author of “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, describes himself as a gardener, planting seeds and seeing what grows, rather than an architect who plans everything in advance.
- Natural Character Development: Characters can evolve more organically, driven by the story’s momentum rather than a predetermined arc.
3. The Cons of Pantsing:
- Potential for Plot Holes: Without an outline, it’s easier to write oneself into a corner or create inconsistencies.
- Editing Challenges: The initial draft might require substantial restructuring, which can be time-consuming.
4. Tips for Successful Pantsing:
- Start with a Strong Premise: Even if you don’t have an outline, having a clear idea or question driving your story can help guide your writing journey.
- Regularly Review: Periodically step back and review what you’ve written to ensure coherence.
- Embrace Rewrites: Accept that your first draft might be rough and be prepared for potentially extensive revisions.
5. The Middle Ground – ‘Plantser’:
Many writers find themselves between the strict domains of plotting and pantsing. These “plantsers” have a loose outline or a few key milestones in mind but allow for spontaneous creativity.
Whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or somewhere in between, the key is to find a method that aligns with your creative process. Every approach has its merits, and the most crucial aspect is ensuring you’re motivated and inspired to see your story through to the end.
Personally, I think everyone is just doing the best they can with a complicated projects… I couldn’t finish my first novel until I found a novel writing template that worked for me.