Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Outliner Vs. Panster

Since entering the blogging world, I have come across two words that had me trying to see where I fit in... outliner Vs. panster. When I first came upon these words I didn't really understand the meaning of them. Which one was I? So, I tried to figure it out.

My understanding of an outliner is someone who outlines their story. They may have chart and graphs. They plot out each chapter. Know each plot point, whether they are major or minor ones. They may make in depth character analysis of each character. They know, before they ever start writing, where each and every chapter is going.

A panster, conversely, flies by the seat of their pants. They may have a rough idea of where their story is going, but by no means do they have it plotted out. They just let it flow wherever it decides to take them. Sitting down at their computer and letting it spew out of them. These examples are, of course, extremes.

I don't think that I'm either. I have an idea of where my story is going. I have key points I know that are going to happen and where, but I don't outline it. I do have not-so-in-depth character analyses, but these are mostly just so that I don't forget things about my characters. So, what does this make me a outanster? A Pansiner? Do we have to be one or the other? Does it even matter?

How do you write? Are you one or the other or somewhere in the middle?

18 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

I think I'm more like you. I have a few notes, varying from a few paragraphs to a couple of pages, but not usually more than that. Only once did I get an idea in my head and start writing without any notes at all. That turned out to be a disaster!

J. A. Bennett said...

I'm kind of in the middle too. I write a loose outline, but I let the story take me where it will :)

Alice said...

I used to be a pantser but now I outline because it took so many revisions to get my stories right without an outline, but outlining doesn't come naturally for me. I'm sort of a loose outliner. I follow some outlining formats and do some character sketches and then jump in.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think it matters just as long as it works for you.
I don't do index cards or graphs, but I take about a month to create a really detailed outline and write up all character details before I begin. (Which is where I'm at now in the process.)

Jessica Salyer said...

This is my first book, so I'll have to see how it works for me. Thanks for stopping by.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I do both but neither in a way that I'm comfortable with yet.

DL Hammons said...

I'm firmly planted in the outliner camp! I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. There are plenty of writers who use a hybrid style like you mention. Don't worry...you're not weird! :)

alexia said...

Thanks for commenting on my query at Matt's blog! Nice to meet you.

I am a blend of plotter and pantser. I do some light outlining, but nothing major. And I change it if I want, when inspiration strikes.

Lydia Kang said...

I extensively outline but pants the scenes. So both, basically!

Eve.E said...

Hi jess,
Great blog post :) I think I am somewhere in the middle really, I always have a work and character plan, but when it comes to begin to write the chapters I usually just go with it. :)

farawayeyes said...

Did you say your examples were extreme? Whoa Nelly! That must mean I'm off the charts. I'm a double/triple XXX Pantster. Spewing is my middle name. Sure I do a lot of editing, but somehow it all seems to work out. This way I don't lose one tiny little thought.

INTERESTING though,the last two things I've written (a novel and a short story),I wrote the ending first. What's with that? At least I knew where I was going.

You have a lovely space. I'll be back.

Arlee Bird said...

It depends. Mostly I just write off the cuff. But if I need more clarity or am stumped for what to write I might do an outline or something like it.


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Margo Kelly said...

I'm somewhere in the middle, and I love your new names for that category!! haha.
:)

Jessica Salyer said...

Thanks Eve. Sounds like what I've been doing. :)

Jessica Salyer said...

Thanks Margo, I was hoping I would get a laugh at that! :)

Em-Musing said...

Hi...I'm a pantser vs a plotter when I write. But when I edit...well the pants come off and...well that's when I figure everything out.

Misha Gericke said...

I'm both. When I write my first draft, I pants, usually only with the ending and a little bit of my characters known. As I draft, I'm basically exploring to see how the story should go.

When I rewrite, I pick the best bits of my draft and make an outline around them.

Still, I see myself as a pantser. And arch one, even. :-D

Thanks for following my blog.

Leigh Ann said...

I'm a SOLID pantser...so far. I'm staring at a Shiny New Idea that I know is going to need a serious outline. I keep telling myself I'll start on it...on Monday. :)

My writing M.O. is actually pretty much what you were describing, and I still call myself a pantser. :) I can't imagine the creativity/insanity/brilliance of people who FULL ON pants. YIKES.