April 06, 2020, 09:44:25 PM

Poll

Do you plan plot before hand (plotter) or do you just create a scenario and write (Pantser)?

Panster
18 (69.2%)
Plotter
8 (30.8%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Author Topic: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?  (Read 5239 times)

Offline WizardofWestmarch

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Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« on: May 19, 2011, 03:49:39 AM »
I'm curious how the writers here are split up between these two camps. I got to thinking about it while reading On Writing last night. While King has a lot of good advice, I found it interesting to see just how vehemently he opposes the idea of plot, as well as how much he seems to dislike planning in general. I have gotten a lot of my appreciation of structure from Larry Brooks Blog storyfix but like him I've also come to realize level of planning doesn't matter, so long as you have the underlying structure.

Personally, I'm mostly on the more heavily planned side of things. I've made two attempts at pantsing, where I started with a scenario and some characters, and I just let it go. One fell apart at 30k words, another at 20k. One of which I might return to at some point because the characters and idea were fun, I just don't know how to make things go without sitting down and grinding it out. However I've also found when I let myself I'll plot for months on end without doing any writing, which is just as bad.

So anyway, pantser or plotter?
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Offline Autumn2May

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Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2011, 04:37:59 AM »
I never plan farther ahead then my next scene, though I do know vaguely where I want the story to go and have a general idea of what needs to happen at the end.  When a scene is finished the next scene is usually very obvious and all I need to do is write it down.  But then again, I write in chronological order, so maybe that makes a difference?  Also I really have no idea if I'm doing it correctly as I've had no writing training aside what I learned in high school English class. :)

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2011, 05:07:56 AM »
I suppose I fall mostly into the pantser camp. I need a character and an ending, but once I have that, it's Scream, Aim & Fire until something is completed. Whenever I try writing outlines or planning things in detail, I lose enthusiasm as it feels like I've told the story once already. That's probably why I've yet to complete anything longer than short novella length, now that I think about it.
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Offline Tiffany Kysis Tackett

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 02:50:10 PM »
I voted pantser, but often, I fall under both camps.

Normally for novel writing, I will have an idea for a world, a basic conflict, and a character.  I then drop the character into a situation, and see how the story unfolds.  This sort of deal worked for the first two years I did NaNoWriMo, which is a very pantser sort of deal.

Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote out one notebook with the plot arc, one with all the major locations and bios of them, and one with all the characters, their bios, and character arcs.  I then planned out the basics of each chapter, ie what needed to happen in each scene to advance the plot forward.  To begin with, I just plotted the first chapter, then wrote it, then plotted the next, then wrote it, etc.  Until I got writing so fast that I didn't plot out more than a scene at a time.  So, in a way, I was still discovery writing, but there was a certain amount of planning which went into the basis of it.

For screenwriting, I am a planner.  I come up with the concept, the key players, and write out the eight beats.  Then I fractle the eight beats.  Then I fractle those, until I have a scene by scene play-out of the entire movie.  Then I start writing.  I can just sit down with a concept and start writing a screenplay, but I usually lose the thread by page 30 if I do, so planning is a must for me.

Offline Silvergilt

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2011, 05:56:54 PM »
Complete pantser - I don't write so much as dictate what my brain is doing; often I don't even really know where the ending is going.  I have a vague idea but quite often the ending doesn't quite work once I get there and instead I write something completely different.  It does seem to work.

However when I've done collaborative writing or worked on other projects such as stretching the writing muscle for RPGs I plot everything out; it's a case of too many cooks in the kitchen otherwise.  Everything looks as if its completely on the fly but as a GM you have to know what to feed people to get them moving, and when the end point is.  I've found that useful when working with other people so one doesn't create too many tangents or get stuck on minutiae.
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Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2011, 07:41:17 PM »
Definitely a discovery writer.  I usually know what story I want to tell but I have very little idea of the plot.  I like to let my characters surprise me.

Offline ganstream1

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2011, 02:44:06 PM »
A bit of both.

I write down a rough storyline sort of like a back bone to the story with all the logic lined up and all the plot holes covered so that I don't have to cover too many holes by the end of the story.

But when I write, I tend to let my characters go on their own, sometimes even to the extend of creating a new arc for them. I use the rough storyline as a place to come back to once my characters finished what they started.

Offline professional-liar

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2011, 12:46:16 AM »
I tend to do a bit of both, but will usually just write for a while and let the characters gel in my brain.  Until I know the characters, it seems like it would be pointless to write down what they were going to do.

Once I do have a general idea of a character, I will make a brief history for the character and really lay everything out.  This way I can know what a character would do to handle a certain situation and I can see if I have characters that are too similar in the same work.
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Offline Mark Lawrence

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2011, 01:00:33 PM »
pantser

Offline AuthorGuy

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2011, 02:23:11 AM »
I never plan farther ahead then my next scene, though I do know vaguely where I want the story to go and have a general idea of what needs to happen at the end.  When a scene is finished the next scene is usually very obvious and all I need to do is write it down.  But then again, I write in chronological order, so maybe that makes a difference?  Also I really have no idea if I'm doing it correctly as I've had no writing training aside what I learned in high school English class. :)
You sound exactly like me!

Offline Autumn2May

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Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2011, 03:43:33 PM »
I never plan farther ahead then my next scene, though I do know vaguely where I want the story to go and have a general idea of what needs to happen at the end.  When a scene is finished the next scene is usually very obvious and all I need to do is write it down.  But then again, I write in chronological order, so maybe that makes a difference?  Also I really have no idea if I'm doing it correctly as I've had no writing training aside what I learned in high school English class. :)
You sound exactly like me!

Good to know I'm not the only crazy one! :)

Offline J.R.Hall

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2013, 07:01:19 PM »
I am sort of a hybrid when it comes to writing. I initially come up with 7 to 9 major points that I envision happening through some brainstorming exercises to help structure my thoughts.

  • Hook
  • Inciting Incident
  • Plot Point 1
  • Pinch Point 1
  • Mid-Point
  • Pinch Point 2
  • Plot Point 2
  • Resolution

Those points are not set in stone, but they provide enough focus and guidance that it allows me to discovery write up to those points then assess what I just wrote to see if I need to change any of the future ones. This way of structuring is a mix between Larry Brooks Story Engineering concept and Dan Wells' Seven Point Story Structure.

I am actually doing a blog series on the Seven Point Story Structure currently and so far I have covered the resolution and the hook.

I've attempted both ways of writing and both individually did not suit my style. But when I combined them I found I was more productive and kept my excitement since the story was still loose in my mind.

Offline ZRWilliams

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2013, 03:37:23 AM »
I'm not sure I can vote on this. In my early writings I was a complete pantser but that has changed over the last few years. At the moment I essentially vomit every little idea onto the page for 20-40 pages and see what works. After that I will try to plot it out or at least be thinking several scenes ahead of what I'm writing. This just allows me the release of discovery and allows me to sit and ask the apparent questions. I actually keep a notebook for each of my stories and will sit for a time after my writing sessions and jot down questions about the culture or the world or the character.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2013, 08:08:44 AM »
I'm a pantser. I come up with the basic idea. I know how it starts and mostly who is going to be in it and I have a fair idea of where it's going to end, but the rest is all blank until I start writing. I find it gives me scope to alter things as I go and not have to stick to a plan of where and when and who and how.
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Offline Lejays17

Re: Pantser vs Plotter, which are you?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2013, 11:39:28 AM »
I'm a pantser. I come up with the basic idea. I know how it starts and mostly who is going to be in it and I have a fair idea of where it's going to end, but the rest is all blank until I start writing. I find it gives me scope to alter things as I go and not have to stick to a plan of where and when and who and how.

It also helps with the pantser-ing if you write chronologically too, the scenes flow into each other, and the story goes to it's (usually) logical conclusion.

I'm also a pantser, but I usually write very short stuff, so I don't have a chance to lose track of the story/plot/characters.
I did a collection sof short stories a few years ago now which started as a last line, and then I wrote backwards from there.  Which was an odd experience, as I don't work that way usually.
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