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To Be or Not to Be...a Pantser

January 28, 2018


A what? In the writing world, there are two types. Pantsers are those who write by the seat of their pants. Plotters are those guessed it, plot. I suppose there's a third hybrid group in the middle somewhere. One is not better than the other, but authors often boldly proclaim their allegiance. At RWA17, you could choose to wear a ribbon on your name badge that identified you as one or the other. I, and many others, did.


So, I am a Pantser who tried to be a Plotter. It made sense. Why would you not want to organize and outline every detail of your book? And then I remembered. In all of my years of school, I never wrote a single outline. That should tell you something. It should have told me something.


I am definitely a Pantser. Listening to people talk about the amount of energy they put into their charts, planners, white boards, etc. exhausts me. I can't do it. I thought about it. I wanted to.  I bought a few tools. But in the end, it made me crazy.


What does being a Pantser mean, you ask. Well, in my book, Second Chances (spoiler alert) the heroine, Charlie, has PTSD. I did not plan that. I did not even know it until I wrote it. That still shocks my husband. "How could you not know?" All I know is that I'm a conduit for my characters. They speak through me. Which sounds a lot like voices in my head. And that's what they are, only not those kind of voices. I'm a psych nurse, I would know.


This is one of my favorite things to ask famous authors I meet. Are you a Pantser or a Plotter? It seems as though there are more Plotters. Or maybe us Pantsers are shy. Not likely. Or secretive. More likely. It doesn't matter, as long as it works for you.

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