Plotter in Disguise?


I’ve always said I’m a pantser, one who doesn’t outline or write a synopsis before writing. I get an idea, maybe jot a few notes, typically having an ending in mind, but then I’m writing the rest by the seat of my pants. Outlines and the such seemed constricting to me, as if someone would be holding a gun to my head saying “HEY! You outlined it this way. No deviating or making changes!”

Obviously that’s not going to happen (at least I hope not!), but I guess it’s how I’ve felt.

This morning I awoke with an idea for a story. Something prompted me to get up and write a synopsis for it. The story, from start to finish, down on paper or, well ya know, computer screen. I was shocked at myself. I do not work like that! Maybe it’s because I just wrote the synopsis for Heavyweight (although that story is already done) or maybe it’s just because all the parts of the story came to me for a change.  I’m not really sure what happened but I’m kind of glad it did.

I won’t know until I sit down to work on the actually story itself (tentatively dubbed Driven) if the plotting was a good or a bad idea. I won’t know if I’ll feel stifled creatively or not, but I think I can make it work. I’ll have to be able to forgive myself if it goes off on a different course (we know characters can often act out in ways we don’t expect) but I feel like having the synopsis will give me a place to go to if I get stuck. We shall see.

I think the lesson here is to be open to doing things in different ways. If the mood strikes you to do something unusual to your style, give it a try anyway. You could find out that it works better for you. You could find out that it makes your story flow better and has you staring blankly at your screen less. You won’t know if you never try.

Have you made major changes in your process? How has it helped or hurt in the long run?


3 responses »

  1. For the most part, I’m a plotter. I have a bad habit of giving up on a story about 10-20k words in, and an outline or character descriptions or even a brainstorm map helps keep me moving through the story. However, every now and again, I’ll write like a pantser. Usually if it’s been a long time since I’ve written something (for example, right now, I’ve been editing for weeks on end, and I’m itching to start WRITING again!), I just get the urge to write. Sometimes these come out into nice little flash fiction pieces or short stories, other times, they end up being just an outlet for all that creative energy, but sometimes those flashes of inspiration come best when you do something outside your usual habit!

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