Are you a plotter or a pantser?
It’s April, and that means it’s camping time! Haha! No. I don’t mean tents and fires, but rather camp for NaNoWriMo! Woo!
But… it’s not November. o.O
You are absolutely write! ;p It’s not November. It’s April. And this isn’t NaNo, but Camp NaNo, which occurs in April (and July.) Now, it’s a little different from NaNo in that, it’s not nearly as popular (or well-known). Also, instead of a giant forum, writers are assigned cabins where they have a group of up to nineteen other writers to interact with throughout the month.
It’s also different from NaNo because you can set your own goal for camp! You can stick to the traditional 50,000 words or you can lower/boost your word count. Or you can even set your goal at a number of hours if you’re editing instead of drafting!
But like any writing competition one thing must be decided well before the writing month ever arrives:
Will you be a Plotter or a Pantser?
Plotter: Someone who takes precious amounts of time to detail out their plot, flesh out their characters (including their backstories, their goals, their personalities, how they’ll change), design their world (complete with pictures, diagrams, pinterest boards and the like). Heck! The plotter may even take the time to design a music playlist for their book.
Pantser: Has the vaguest of ideas for their novel. Have the beginning of a plot. Probably have a beginning. Might have an ending. Are most definitely missing a vital element to their story. They’re planning to let their characters tell them who they are rather than dictating to the characters who they are. Really, they just fly by the seat of their pants, throws words at a blank page, and pray it all makes coherent sense when they’re done.
Now, the question becomes:
is one better than the other?
Weeeell, I probably would have said ‘yes’ in recent years. I would have said that this is how my story is plotted out and how it will go. (Yes, I am a plotter, myself.) I would know exactly where my story began and ended (might scramble a bit for a middle), but then this year came around.
I spent all of March plotting out my novel. I set up the book scene-by-scene. I set up backstories. I set up interactions. (I struggle with world a smidge since it’s my very first space opera, but more on that tomorrow during my update post.) And I started writing! I was so psyched!
But my characters developed minds of their own (realistic minds, I might add), that threw off my ENTIRE PLOT!
All that plotting I spent countless, pain-staking hours slaving over was WORTHLESS! I had hit THE WALL and I had no idea how to get around it. It was such a burden that I couldn’t put a single other WORD on paper! But… I didn’t know how to be a pantser! It-It’s wrong! It’s BLASPHEMY! There was NO way I was going to just keep writing and pray it all worked out and I didn’t.
Frankly, I don’t know how pantser minds work. My brain is FAR too logical and organized, and I don’t know how a story ever manages to come together for these people. I am, and likely always will be a plotter, and I’m not alone. But maybe there is some hidden glory behind being a pantser.
What do you think?
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
What are the benefits/side effects of your style?
Let me know in the comments!
And check out my discussion from last week: