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Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

If you’ve been in an online or in person writing group, you’ve most likely come across people identifying themselves as plotters or pantsers.

Plotters, as you can probably guess, use an outline to help them plot out their novels. They map their story ahead of time by scene so they can see the path from the beginning of their story to the end.

Pantsers get their name from writing by the seat of their pants. They start with one or two characters and a general idea of a plot, but don’t follow a set path. Pantsers write what comes to them in the moment, often letting characters drive the story.

Is a Plotter or a Pantser Better?

Neither method of writing your story is inherently better than the other. Write the way that will get the words out of your head and into your Word doc or notebook.

The exception to this are novels where you need to know what the mystery or crime is in order to line up suspects and plots that support the mystery. But even then, pantsers have some leeway once the basics are sorted.

The problem comes when you try to make your brain think and write the way that doesn’t come naturally, especially when you’re first starting out. Building your characters and the world they inhabit should be something your enjoy, not a chore. Experiment with pantser and plotter methods to see which one feels better to you and taps into your creativity.

Using Both Methods

I’m a hybrid of these. I like to have a general outline of what’s going to happen at the beginning, middle, and end. But, I add characters and subplots along the way as the story unfolds-even with my cozy mysteries. In fact, I’m halfway through writing the third book now and just created a new accomplice and subplot.