Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Plotter vs. Pantser Conundrum brought to you by @J_Ryan! #writemotivation #allthewords

Today's post brought to you by our very own Ryan Hill--author of zombies, snarky demons, and awesomeness. Take it away, Ryan!

Every writer at some point in their adventure gets asked the eternal question: are you a plotter, or are you a pantser? Some people can answer right away, saying “Plotter for life sucka!” as they make some weird hand gesture while speaking. I, however, have a wholly original answer.


Wait. What? Both? Is that possible? Not only is it possible, in my opinion its necessary.

The most well known example of a plotter is television’s Joss Whedon. He outlines every single inch of his shows (and movies) to create an airtight plot. Anyone who’s seen “Firefly” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or even “The Avengers” knows Whedon can plot like few can. There’s a drawback to plotting though. You’re left with no room to explore things that may arise while writing that weren’t anticipated.

This is where pantsing comes into play.

Pantsing is a very tricky balancing act and requires a lot of homework. Diving into a novel, hoping the characters will guide the story along without a little groundwork will result in a possibly interesting but most likely boring story that ambles along aimlessly like Mad Max in the Australian waste lands. You have to know your characters before you begin writing. Otherwise they can’t help you take the story in unexpected directions. More importantly, you have to know where your story ends.

If you know your characters, their quirks, their conflicts, their personality, they can help inform you of the decisions they’ll make in any given situation. But, like everything else in life, they need direction. You have to know where your story is going. Once you have that down, you can set your story/characters in motion and sit back and watch them get in hotter and hotter water until the end, when everything is resolved in whatever fashion seems appropriate (naturally you, the writer, will presumably guide them into more and more trouble as the story goes along).

Pantsing is fun. It lets you jump into writing before your patience wears thin from endless hours of outlining, and it gives your manuscript a chance to breathe and delve into subplots and themes that arise throughout the story. Plotting, while it works, is much more constrictive in terms of storytelling. I recommend sticking with plotting if you’re more of a beginning writer, but give a mix of the two a try once you feel confident. You’re gonna like the way it looks. I guarantee it (smoky Men’s Wearhouse CEO voice).

Stalk Ryan here: Blog | Facebook | G+ | Twitter


Marlene Relja said...

HA! I just wanted to say, this was an excellent blog post. Well said, Ryan Hill. I'm going to start stalking you because of this. (your fault, not mine) ;)

Definition House said...

lol Thanks for stopping by, Marlene! And for stalking.

Post a Comment