Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pantser or Plotter?

From what I understand, there are two types of writers. A pantser is the term for those who write by the seat of their pants. They start with a blank page and let their creativity soar.  Spontaneity is their nature and they are completely open to write whatever comes to mind.  A plotter is an author who structures their writing and prefers to work with an outline, plotting everything about the entire novel before writing a word. Both are conceptually powerful approaches to writing and both have advantages and limitations.  They end up with the same result; however, the journey is completely different.

So what type am I? At this point in my journey, this is what I’m struggling to work out.

I admit I like a degree of structure and order in my life. Right now, I have enough of my novel planned that I know it will be a Dark Paranormal series with elements of romance, mythology and urban fantasy. For the most part, the story world is built, plot is outlined, main characters are sketched out and I have a big-picture view of where I would like my dark and dangerous story to go. I feel like my puzzle is put together more or less.  Well, as much as it can be right now. These are characteristics of a plotter.

On the other hand, I know myself enough to say that if I start writing and my characters want me to go another way, I’ll be open to changing things up. It won’t make me lose my mind or focus. I’ll be willing to rework things as needed. I’m also very spontaneous in my life, love being surprised and love it when the unexpected happens. These are characteristics of a pantser.

So now I’m confused. By the way I’m pulling the hair out of my head right now, I don’t feel like I fit into either type. I don’t like to trying to force a square peg in a round hole and that is what I seem to be doing some days. Is this because I’m a pantser but trying to be a plotter? Can I be both? A hybrid, per se?

Or really, am I worrying for nothing? Does approach matter?

My fears in not knowing for certain what type I am are:

~ Will the novel’s structure be weak with too little planning?
~ Will the organic feel of the novel suffer with too much planning?
~ If I’m over-planning and shouldn’t be (i.e. not understanding what type I am), then will this negatively impact my motivation and my writing process?
~ Will I be leaving too much to the editing process?
~ Will my success be impacted by not knowing what type I am?

These are the questions I’m asking myself right now as I think of which approach I should be using. 

So which type are you? Do you always stick to one approach or switch it up and do both? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

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