Plotting or Pantsting?

Pantsting: writing by the seat of your pants and letting the story write itself.

Plotting: planning every chapter, every scene and basically write a book with a structure.

This is a widely debated topic among author circles. Should you plot or write by the seat of your pants?

I suppose I should start off by saying, I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert on the craft of writing. I’m a tryer. I’m a researcher. I’m an observer. I’m a learner.


I’m a little of both. I plot my theme, my ending, my twists, my high and low points and conflicts both internal and external. I plot out what I want to have happen at certain points in my novel based on my expected word count and I’m done. I use a piece of graph paper (super old school) and I pencil everything in. Then I sit down with my coffee and write.



One. I hate rules. If I plotted out every chapter and every scene I would feel too confined to be creative.

Two. Inspiration comes to me at the craziest times in the craziest places. I jot it all down and add it to my “outline”.

Three. Sometimes my story surprises even me. When I wrote The Island, it was all by the seat of my pants. I had a general idea of what the story was, but as I wrote it, it changed completely. My perspectives on WHO they were and WHAT motivated them changed. It changed everything I thought was going to happen. It changed my twist.

So where do I sit? Right in the middle.


I write with a basic: if this, then that theory and let the story take me where it will, within my plotted ideas.

Now, as an admitted previous pantster, it’s not without its drawbacks. I used to completely write by the seat of my pants. Any guesses on how many unfinished novels there are on my hard drive? (I’ll never admit to it) Because while I sat down with the intent of writing THE BEST NOVEL EVER I ran out of steam. My plots got lost. I had no ending. My subplots took over. I had no high and low points and no real direction other than I had great ideas but no end game.


So authors, writers: what are you? A plotter, a pantster or a fine mix of both?


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