Potted Plants…er, I mean, Plotter or Pantser

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To the non-author, the terms “plotter” and “pantser” might seem very strange.  “Pantser” sounds like someone who is fond of giving reverse wedgies.  Or maybe a frat member with too much time and beer on his hands.  “Plotter” sounds like someone planning nefarious deeds, such as those involving pants, time, and beer.

At any rate–when you’re an author, you generally mean something quite different.  Usually.

A “pantser”, in author-speak, is someone who writes “by the seat of his/her pants”; in other words, someone who writes whatever happens to flow out of the fingers and onto the keyboard.  A good comparison is impromptu comedy.  Those folks just stand up there on stage and say whatever comes into their heads.  Same sort of thing with “pantser” authors.

A “plotter”, as you can probably guess by now, is someone who plans the story and then writes it.  This can range from merely working out a scene in their heads to writing entire outlines from beginning to end.

This week, we blog tour participants have been asked to answer the question:  are you a plotter or a pantser?  I had a nice long noodle-doodle about that today, and I am prepared to answer truthfully:

Yes.

After all, I don’t think anyone who writes uses either method 100% of the time.  Just spraying words randomly across the screen can get totally out of control if there isn’t some sort of organization, and keeping to a rigid idea without some room for imagine does not lend itself well to an interesting story line.

I like to plot out my book while I’m walking or working in the yard.  This is the only time I can almost guarantee no interruptions.  I see the story happening in my mind, and I go over it many, many times before I commit it to paper (yes, I handwrite everything first).  As I’m writing, other details, conversations, and sensations will add themselves to the story line, fleshing the narrative out.  When I go back to type the manuscript into the computer, I catch time hiccups and non sequiturs and fix them.  Then, once the story is all cozied up in the thumb drive and having a “done!” celebration, I read the entire thing again.  When I re-read the first part, I can find things I was going to expand on–then I go and add/remove stuff further down the story.

So, what I guess I am is a lot of both.  The “lumber and nails” of the structure are planned, while the “paint and interior decoration” part is a lot of unplanned reaction to the structure’s outcome.

However, after a few beers, I may resort to the other definitions, and forget what I was writing entirely…

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