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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Clemmer

Plotting or Pantsing?

Hey, hey, Finish That Novel! It’s been a while. No, I haven’t forgotten you. But I have been very busy, and I really haven’t had the time to keep up with this blog. However, there are some parts of the writing life that have been on my mind a lot lately, and I thought I would probably write an article to see where everything stands. So, what’s the deal about plotters and pantsers? Most writers will categorize themselves into one of the two categories, but others, like myself, aren’t comfortable with that kind of labeling and pigeon-holing for our work. For those of you unfamiliar with the terms, plotters tend to plan everything out before writing it. Pantsers, on the other hand, like to make things up as they go along.

Different people have different preferences, and different books have different needs. I personally don’t think that one method is better than the other, necessarily, but with Nanowrimo coming up, and an exciting new experimental book on my mind (visit my author Facebook page for more!), I’ve really had to take both methods into consideration. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Plotting involves outlining. It means that you know what’s going to happen before you write it, and that way you can write quickly and with confidence, knowing where your story is going and what’s going to happen next. It’s good for tight deadlines and for reliability regarding your release schedule, but a lot of writers don’t like restraining themselves to an outline because writing spontaneously is (to be honest) so much more fun. A lot of people also feel that outlining your book makes it more formulaic and takes a lot of the natural flow of your storytelling away. Books that have been plotted out can be a lot more predictable and a lot less, well, remarkable.

In my opinion, pantsing a novel is a lot more fun. When you make a story up as you write it, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There aren’t any rules that dictate how do you should write, and if your novel is going in a way that you don’t want it to, you can change your mind. You can be honest but your emotional highs and lows while writing, and you can keep the mood of the book fresher than if you were working according to an outline. But writers’ block is an issue. I’m not going to say that writers’ block doesn’t exist, or that it’s just a sign of laziness. While I do believe it is possible to work past writer’s block and keep writing, it’s a lot harder and more painful to write a story if you’re not really feeling it or don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s a dilemma, and not an easy one to solve. Next week, Nanowrimo 2016 is going to start. I’m doing something a little unusual this year. Instead of the normal 50,000-word novella, I’m going for a 90,000-word whopper. That’s a lot of words to get out in four weeks. It averages to about 3,000 words a day, which is significantly more than I typically write in a day, but I think it would be best for my writing right now if I tried to write on a grander scale, especially considering the story that I’m working toward. I’ve been reading up a lot about writing faster and better, and all of the resources point to one thing: plotting. If I want to write a lot and quickly, I have to know what I’m going to write. That means that I have to spend this week outlining everything. So, plotting or pantsing? Right now, I have to go with plotting, but I am nervous about it. I want to produce a full-length novel this time, not a typical novella. And I want it to be good. So, I’m working out an outline and crossing my fingers in the hopes that it will work. What are your thoughts on plotting or pantsing? Do you favor either one, or come out somewhere in the middle? Please let me know in the comments section what you think is the ideal way to work out a novel.



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