I am, by nature, a pantser. I begin my writing at “Once upon a time” and plow through until I reach “The End.” Outlines are things I haven’t used since they were mandatory for college papers, and the concept of laying out what’s going to happen in advance is completely foreign to me. And you know what?
I think it was Ann Patchett who said that the difference between being a pantser and a plotter is where you do the heavy lifting.
Plotters spend who-knows-how-long laying out where the story is going to go before they even begin writing. They do character profiles, setting sketches, and, yes, outlines galore before they consider writing “Once upon a time.” Only once the hard work of coordinating their ideas is done do they put pencil to paper. For plotters, writing is pretty close to one-and-done. Maybe a second draft for revisions.
Pantsers, on the other hand, do all their hard work after they’ve written the story. You end up with draft after draft after draft as you realize that you really need a subplot and that scene should really move up three chapters and this character could really use some fleshing out. You- or at least I- end up writing WAY more than your average pantser.
Obviously it’s too late for me to go back and become a plotter on this particular manuscript. (About a year too late.) But for future books, my goal is to become a plotter. I know that plotting vs pantsing is innate, but there’s nothing to suggest I can’t learn to be more organized with my writing, right? I’ve started a spreadsheet in the hopes that it’ll help me become more plotter-y. I ‘m not going to share it here- spoilers, sweetie!- but here’s what the headlines currently are:
Miscellaneous is for any little details that occur to me that might come in handy, like a new character or important setting information.
Will it work? Who knows. I sure hope so though, because I’m on draft 8 and it’s getting exhausting.
Are any of you plotters? Have you tried going from one to the other? Do you have any advice for me? Let me know!
P.S. My manuscript is at 64,101 words!