Pantser vs Plotter: A False Dichotomy


I clear my throat and stand up close against a microphone. Too close. The mic squeals and I flush red. The co-coordinating lady next to me gives me a big smile and gestures for me to talk. And so I do.

“Hi, my names Kylie and I’m a Pantser.’

Together the crowd chimes, ‘Hello, Kylie.’

I look around at the sea of faces, but all I can see are the tops of people’s heads. Are they as ashamed as I am?

LOL okay, I’ll be serious now. It’s true though, us Pantsers are an unusual bunch. Writing by the seat of our pants, what a silly notion. Well, I’m one of them I’m afraid. I don’t plot much. The only thing I do is write down the ideas as they come to my head and, briefly, consider which ones I will keep.

So I’m still editing the first novel from Adenine, and I have decided to re-write the ending. I’m still keeping most of it, but I want to change some of it.

What does this mean?

It means that I’m going to have to do some plotting. Making the last scenes more complicated means that I need a plan. No more ‘pantsering’ for me. I’m going to be a plotter *sigh*, and how dull that will be.

To be honest, I do think pantsers and plotters are not a dichotomous bunch. Surely there are plotter writers who make things up as they go along that aren’t in their original plan, and surely there are pansters, like me, who have to slow down and plan for certain scenes.

So let go of your habits and routines, and do what’s best for your manuscript. I really really really don’t want to make a plan, but what I want more than anything is an engaging and thrilling story, and I know the only way to produce that is to be a plotter.


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Comments: 6

  1. Dalya Moon August 21, 2012 at 12:11 am

    I agree that it’s a false dichotomy.

    We’re all probably a combo!

    I advise outlines for people who want to write faster, because having a plan leads to less cutting of entire scenes, chapters, and characters. Less cutting = less time wasted = more exciting books and stories!

    • kjcolt August 21, 2012 at 12:27 am

      Welcome to my blog Dalya.

      I like to make very brief outlines, but it’s still called plotting even though it’s not as intense as a wall covered in stick-it notes. Now that’s dedication to plotting. 🙂

      • Dalya Moon August 21, 2012 at 9:08 am

        I’m more of a spreadsheet gal. Better for color-coding, and I run word count estimates down one column. It’s very nerdy!

        • kjcolt August 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

          Oh, look would you mind sending me a screen shot as an example. I’m still looking for a way to write that is more efficient and works for me. I would really appreciate it. 🙂

          • Dalya Moon August 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm


          • kjcolt August 22, 2012 at 12:34 am

            thanks so much 🙂