If you saw my interview with Boomers On Books last week, you’d have seen our brief discussion about the planner vs pantser dynamic. The interview was an hour long and because of all the other things we discussed, we didn’t go into great depth. So I thought I’d write a blog post about it to expand…
Planner? Pantster? Plantser? What Are They?
They’re writing styles – the define how a writer will compile a piece. Normally it applies to novels, but it can also apply to shorter stuff too.
- Planner: This type of writer compiles a plan of each story, chapter by chapter, before writing anything else. They know how it will open, all the subplots, characters and so on
- Pantser: This type of writer makes it up as they go along. They might have a general idea of where it’s going, but it will invariably change direction. Subplots develop as they write, and the ending reveals itself towards the end
- Plantser: A portmanteau of the two words means this type of writer mixes both styles. A plantser can swing towards one way or another without fitting in either of those two camps. This is more like a spectrum
Which Are You, Matt?
I hate to sit on the fence but that really depends on the story! I have never been a full Planner – I tried it once a long time ago and the story flew off in so many different directions that planning became a complete waste of my time.
That said, I am rarely a 100% pantser either. I’ve started many stories that didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t have much of a clue beyond the opening scene. They’ve ended up in development hell only to be junked – with just one exception. That’s Vulcan City, an idea I started in 2011 I’ve only just picked up again. More details will be available in future.
Salmonweird: is at the Planner end of the Plantser spectrum. Completing the final chapter soon after writing the first chapter and then trying to bring the two together has happened with all three books so far. I suspect this will happen with the others too.
Phobetor’s Children: Is more towards the pantsing end of the spectrum with some limited planning. For most of its life I had no idea where it was going beyond a couple of loosely connected scenes. I knew it was going to be a story about Romans vs aliens, but that was it.
Dead Heat: was closer to the middle. I didn’t know what the end would be like or how the characters would get there, but there was more of an idea than with Phobetor’s Children. Dead Lock is different in that I already had a template in Dead Heat so I’m not really counting it.
So over to you now – which are you?
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