Pantser or Plotter?

Today on my blog, we are answering the age-old question of writers EVERYWHERE. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Pantser or Plotter?

Every book goes through a process that results differently to each reader. The production of which varies both from book to book, and author to author. Some are what are referred to as plotters, while others are what are referred to as pantsers, and yet other authors write with a bit of both. I’d like to think of myself as a pantser but I believe I’m more of a hybrid. I’ll explain why I say this, after I first explain what I mean by the terms.

Plotter – this is an author who plans out the skeleton of the book, series, life of a character long before the pages weave together into a story. This means that before the first real story word is created the author has dedicated themselves to the story, researched information and produced a solid idea for what they are creating. Now, not every story adheres to this kind of format, so most authors are flexible regarding their plotting system, but it is a planned book none the less.

Pantser – this is an author who creates from the first word all the way through, taking needed notes along the way for coherency, consistency and details they can’t afford to confuse by the end of the creation. They are writing by the seat of their pants. Sounds pretty simple, and for the most part it is, but I can tell you from experience it lends itself well to major plot holes, character changes without explanation and details that are beyond comprehension. This is what the notes help with. When the revision process begins, a pantser refers to those notes and makes the glaring adjustments long before anyone else sees the story.

Why am I a hybrid? I start my stories with the end in sight. I’ve visualized how each book should complete before I finalize it. I also know what major hurdles the characters have to overcome prior to the first words being created, however I don’t know how they will get there or what will be involved with it until I begin to write. I don’t often know where the lives of my characters will lead moment to moment, or why a character is going to make choices until the choices are made. It is an adventure for me, my characters and my readers as well. This hybrid process enables me to flood the pages of a book along a given path toward the final destination, without knowing the twists and turns along the way.

It’s a lot of fun. I love creating what I do, how I do.
I’ve learned from some of my friends that they will read the last page of a book before reading the first. Do you do this? Do you have to know where the book will end, before you read it?

About My Guest:
Catrina Taylor is a single mom and a science fiction author with a love of words that draws her into fictional creations daily. Playing with her children, reading books and developing strong characters are passions that are unyielding in their day. Her fictional universe around Xarrok beckons her generation after generation, commencing with Birth of an Empire: The Beginning and continuing across five more generations.

Her currently available releases are Birth of an Empire: The Beginning, Below the Surface and Change by Design. Each crafted science fiction story is part of a greater universe, and series. Adding to both the short story series and the main introduction series later this year, Catrina has three more titles nearly ready for release. Consequences is the next book in the Birth of an Empire series. MindTricks and Through Anguish detail the stories of Keydra Tan and Zaren Rixx, and their recruitment into the Xenonian Psionic Corps. All three stories will be available by September first.

You can connect with Catrina on Twitter, Facebook or at the home of Xarrok


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4 responses to “Pantser or Plotter?

  1. That’s a great question, the one you posed at the end.

    I hate spoiling the ending, personally, and I think that frequently when I write, I may have a vague idea of where I *want* things to end up… but oftentimes the characters and the plots surprise me by taking things in a different direction.

    Great post!

  2. pantser here. to my detriment. grin. great article, Catrina

  3. Leslie

    I would also call myself a hybrid, by your definition 🙂

  4. In my solo work, I’m definitely a pantser, with only the occasional hint of plotting.

    For instance, here’s what I knew about my current WIP, before I started writing it:

    1. They’re on a ship.
    2. They all die at the end. Everyone.

    And what happened? A few of the characters surprised me by not dying at all!

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