Indie Authors: Pros and Cons of Being a Plotter or Pantser
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Pantser or Plotter? These terms refer to how an author creates their masterpieces. The means in which they go about structuring the plot of their stories are completely different. Both have their places as well as their pros and cons.
What is a Plotter?
A plotter is a planner. Nearly every detail is carefully outlined before their fingers start to type. Everything including characters, their names, their personalities, and the plot are meticulously planned.
What is a Pantser?
Well, first of all, it’s a made up word. It has the word pants in it. So a pantser is someone who “flies by the seat of their pants.” In short, they are the polar opposite of a plotter. They usually start writing with an idea and go from there. Characters have a way of just showing up and stories tend to fly in unplanned directions.
What’s a Plantser?
This is exactly what the name implies. It is a combination of Plotter and Pantser. Most authors are plantsers. Despite best laid plans, great ideas have a way of popping up mid-draft. Same can hold true for pantsers. There are times when an author needs to explore possibilities and even, dare I say, write down options for scenes.
Plotter: Pros and Cons
Because a plotter has already planned out their novel ahead of time, the process of getting it down is much easier.
Since everything is mapped out, they rarely get stuck on a scene. So, essentially, they avoid the dreaded Writer’s Block.
The Plot Structure tends to be smooth.
Plotters can plan such things as foreshadowing or irony because it’s already been built in.
The crafting of characters is more efficient. A plotter already has personalities figured out and knows the complexity of each of them.
Plotters tend to spend so much time on their outlining, they sometimes lack the flexibility to change something. Or even worse, they stop writing and create a whole new outline to make sure the story flows.
In an effort to create the perfect plot structure, it's sometimes commonplace for plotters to take a really long time to complete a manuscript.
Pantser: Pros and Cons
Authors are free to take the story wherever it wants to go. Often Pantsers would say, “I had no idea the story was going to go in that direction until it did.”
Pantsers get to experience the story for the first time just like the reader: full of wonder and surprises.
Since the plot is being developed on the fly, the ending can come at any moment or continue to progress because it is developed primarily by feel.
Because there’s no solid structure to the path of the story, plot holes can develop as well as inconsistency in character development.
Take the process of editing and add an extra round of editing. Still, that may not be enough.
Quite often, because there isn’t a set path in the story, pantsers may experience frequent writer’s block. This could be debilitating towards overall creativity.
Whatever your style is, it’s difficult to be exclusively one or the other. Situations arise. New ideas present themselves. Questions need to be answered. It’s creatively important to explore both sides. Plotters need to occasionally let their freak flags fly. Pantsers would benefit taking a moment to step back and explore possibilities.