• Daniela Silva

plotter vs pantser: what?

What type of writer are you?

The art of writing is very much more than just jolting down word on a piece of paper. Writing has technicalities and strategies that most amateur's writers can't even begin to comprehend

A woman is at the edge of a table getting cosy with her gelid hands and borrowed blanket. She stares at a computer for almost half an hour before closing it up and ordering a hot chocolate. She stares at everyone else. She sees a man wearing a green parka hat and he smiles at her. She opens the computer and put down the first of many letters. they start rolling down her fingers like water. For about another hour she is creator. She stops for a sip of her creamy drink full of marshmallows until the top. She returns to her story but her story does not return to her.

What is she? A pantser or a plotter?

Definition of Pantser: A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don't plan out anything, or plan very little (source).

Definition of Plotter: A plotter is someone who plans out their novel before they write it (source).

Simple right? A Pantser is someone that doesn't plan ahead and a plotter is someone that does.

Simple but tricky. There is still a huge dispute between this too ways of writing a novel that make beginners confused on which one to go for.

First of all be aware that you are your own writer and that there is no right or wrong. You can create your own way.

But I do believe that it is best to follow a little guidance in the first step before working out your path.

I am a plotter. But I was a pantser.

I started my writing journey as a pantser simply because it felt more natural and clean. A bit of organic if you will. I made me feel free in my creative process. This is one of the many pros of being a pantser:


When you are forced to think quick and embrace your sense of discovery, and still get the words flowing, you will free way more free than a plotter will. This is because of the unexpected, because you have no idea what will come next so the world is an oyster. Your creative being have no boundaries. It is great if you can run with it.

“I sit down at my computer every day praying for a lightning strike.” Pierce Brown (source).

2.Listening to the story

If being a pantser teaches you something that something is how to listen to the story. I love it! It is like the story is guiding your finger to the right letter and all you have to do is listen and comply with its brilliance. It is a good skill to have as a writer.

But listening to the story is nothing more than to listen to your own deep mind. It is making sure that there is some room for your subconscious work around your conscious self. and again that is very valuable for every writer.

“I like to think of the book as being an adventure. I have this mantra which says, Serve the story, listen to the story. And often the story knows better than I do what it wants to be.” David Morrell (source).


And the last pro of being a pantser is who easy it is to be one. You don't need to plan. You don't need to do anything but to write which is what you sign up to do right? It is amazing to be able to just sit down and spit out a good story with no type of preparations (obviously for a first draft, even pantser edit).

I think that every plotter is a bit jealous of pantsers for their ability to just write. I know that I am.

“Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters’ theses.” Stephen King (source).


Pantsers get stuck. When this happens, Pantsers often abandon old projects for new ones, leaving multiple unfinished novels in their wake (source).

Famous writers that are pantsers: Stephen king; Pierce Brown; Margaret Atwood; Chuck Wendig.

I am now a plotter.

because I learned that I need to plan in order to not get writer's block

Plotter are writers that go a step ahead even before starting the writing process. I need this really and I am very grateful for finding how to outline: outline is the key word for a plotter because it is the process/place where all writing notes and plans are keeps and developed.

1.Writer's block cure

Yes, being a plotter is a safety blanket against creative blocks. I am say that from experience this cannot be more true. I changed from being a pantser to a plotter because of this pro. I suffered from writer's block for a long bit and outlining made me break free of it.

Planing ahead giving you the clarity of seeing the whole novel. It gives you the power to not falling in the trap of losing the story. The outline is the story only not in a final form.

There are authors that make their outlines as specific as each scene. and all of their lines are kinda of done for them they just need to write them away. It makes characters voices more easy to find and story tones to be concise.

“If you do enough planning before you start to write, there’s no way you can have writer’s block. I do a complete chapter by chapter outline.”E.L. Stein (source)

2.Fast Fast

Being a plotter means spending a lot of time in your outline. Of course that different writers do this to different degree and generally you will need a few days or weeks or even months to complete the perfect outline.

But the actually process of writing a novel after getting an outline done is fairly fast. Writer that adopt this method will get their novel written in a shorter amount of time. There is no need to stop and think about the story because the story is already thought out ahead.

3.NO DRAFT 0/few edits

This point is related to the previous one. When a writer plans out his entire book before writing it he/she will frequently have an easier job with the editing process. The truth is that all writers write bad on their first draft.

It is the writer curse to surpass that draft so that the book can evolve to a better one. But when there is no plan ahead writer tend to forget and not analyse their story very well.

Meaning: plot holes and characters too alike; unnecessary scenes, tropy relationships, unrealistic places, too much of this or that...etc. Being a plotter helps you avoid these things.

and I do believe that a pantsers are a little jealous of plotters for being able to plan so well ahead.

Here is an outline by J.K.Rowling


Plotters are confined to their plans, meaning if they do get stuck or want to change something, they often have to redo their whole outline.(source).

Famous writers that are plotters: J.K. Rowling; Katherine Anne Porter; E.L. Stein.

So being either one of this types of writer has its own benefits and troubles. And the solution to that is being what I believe that I am. Which is a bit of both.

If you are interested on how I do this and my outlining process please let me know in the comments bellow.


A very cool article about famous authors outlines: here

A very funny quiz for you to find out if you are a pantser or a plotter (JUST FUN) : here


Have you read my newest post? Here it is: The power of Storytelling

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Thank for the support and please comment so we can all become friends.

Happy readings



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© 2019 by Daniela Sofia Silva.