Misconceptions about Pantsers

Good afternoon fellow writers. I have a question for you today. Are you a plotter or are you a pantser? Every writer is different. We all have different ways of preparing to write our books, and most of the time our way won’t work for everyone.

I am a pantser. My so-called “outline” consists of a bullet list of ideas and a half-filled-out overview of plot points because I get impatient after act two. I almost never do any sort of character work (there are some exceptions) because I like to let my characters shape themselves. I feel like they’re more realistic when I do it that way.

Anyways, I once heard a writer say they were surprised to find out a particular author was a pantser because their books are so well thought out and developed.

My initial reaction was offense. What’s that supposed to mean? But then I realized this really is what plotters think of pantsers.

Hey, I don’t blame you. We’re weird. I imagine that for someone who has to extensively plan out their novels before writing the idea of just jumping in head first sounds impractical. That’s why plotters are always trying to get us to plot!

Plotters think they have it better because they map out the entire story, thinking that it makes a difference. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never read a book and thought “oh yeah, this guy is a total plotter” or “this author is definitely a pantser.” I do believe there are pros and cons to both but I don’t think that overall one is better than the other.

Our first drafts are our outlines. We don’t need to break down every scene to understand where the story is going. We need an inciting incident, an ending, and something to go on in between. Just because we don’t plan doesn’t mean we don’t have a direction or that we don’t know how to write foreshadowing.

I have tried plotting multiple times and it always leaves me feeling even more confused. I never have writer’s block while pantsing. I do run into the occasional brick wall, but I never just sit there trying to figure out what comes next (I thank my bullet list for that).

I have learned so much about writing just from being a pantser. I’m a kinesthetic learner. I spent so much time reading articles and watching videos on how to write but I was never able to understand it until I just jumped in and started experimenting.

A misconception about panters is that they don’t plan because they like the freedom. I don’t think being a pantser is necessarily about wanting to be free as much as it reflects how the person (that being the writer) thinks. How we take in things around us. How we go through life.

I will say, plotters have one thing easy. The editing process as a plotter must be a breeze!

If you are a pantser I would love to hear your thoughts! And if you’re a plotter I would love to know how you view your writing process and pantsers.

Thanks a bunch!

— Nerd


4 thoughts on “Misconceptions about Pantsers

  1. I think it’s a spectrum, and a lot of people get too bogged down in which-is-better debates. I also think every book can be different.

    No outline encompasses everything. I outline, but there are still plenty of things I have to figure out as I write. I think the interesting conversations are around *what* we choose to outline and what we prefer to figure out on the fly.

    In my outline, I want to figure out my main character’s emotional arcs, my beginning and ending, and the big act-break events. I may go into more or less detail about the rest, depending on the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a pantser through and through, and I have tried planning two manuscripts too, which didn’t come out exactly as planned. Of course, the usual risks exist, like writing myself into a corner, or having to rejig the entire flow in subsequent drafts. But hey, as long as it works, right? Anyway, thanks for this, fellow pantser!

    Liked by 1 person

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