The first one is easy and usually gets nods of agreement and requests for more information. The second one can be a little trickier. Writers take their mode of creation very seriously.
Plotters spend hours working out their stories before ever beginning. With physical notecards taped to the closet doors or the corkboard tab in Scrivener filled with color coded cards they map out the plans for their WIP (work in progress). No twist is left unplanned, no character motive unexplored. They won’t start until the planning has begun.
The Pantser have a general idea of a topic and where their story is going. They plop in front of their computers and their fingers fly. They are surprised by their characters and turn of events as if they are reading this new creation as it forms.
So where are you? Plotter or Pantser?
Maybe you’re like me and a little of both. After all I’m a phlegmatic and hate to go to extremes.
I never write out anything more than names before beginning. But I do a fair amount of plotting in my head. I see the story unfold like a movie long before I begin writing. But it is a scaffolding. When I sit and write much of what happens is not planned.
In the second novel of my trilogy, Rebel’s Son, I knew Shane was not going to be the good son and honorable crown prince. But until I started writing I didn’t know just how bad he was going to be. After the first couple of chapters I sat back and thought, I don’t even like this guy.
For those of us who write by the seat of our pants, we cringe at the notion of all that work when we could be writing. For those who painstakingly organize and plan every twist and turn you marvel at us pantsers we ever get anything comprehensible on the page at all—let-alone an entire novel.
But I say, why pick sides? Do what works for you and have fun. If planning takes your stress away and clears the way for great fiction, do it. If you are a free spirit who wants no constraints, write away my friend. Be free. Or maybe you’ll decide that a little planning before you take off is just the ticket to success.
Plot or Pants—but always write.