This is a topic that's been on the forefront of my mind lately. It seems everywhere I look I see people weighing in on whether they are Pansters (seat of your pants, write as you go) or Plotters (outlining, character worksheets, the whole kit and caboodle).
Sometimes it feels like a showdown.
What side am I on? I've always been a Pantser. Here are some pros and cons as I see them:
- The sense of discovery keeps it interesting and fresh, which in turn keeps it feeling that way for the reader
- It encourages a creative flow, almost like stream of consciousness writing
- It's character driven. The characters are more free to make their own decisions, and less likely to be forced into certain actions by the author because of a perceived notion of where the plot is supposed to go
- It can be messy when you go to revise
- You could find yourself 70,000 words in and written into a corner you can't escape from (I have around 5 started manuscripts on my hard drive, which I may or may not ever go back to)
- If you have a complex plot (like I often do) it's hard to keep track of all the threads
Now here's the earth-shattering part of the post. Ready? I don't see why you have to be one or the other, or why you can't change depending on the project.
Recently I started a brand new WIP. I decided to give outlining a try. Nothing major. Just a simple Beatsheet(worksheet) from SAVE THE CAT as recommended in a Twitter conversation with my Tweeps/blogging buddies, Stina and Laura. This particular story also requires quite a bit of research to begin with. I haven't gotten terribly far yet, but I am excited about the possibilities. It's kind of nice having a safety net of sorts, especially knowing where it ultimately should end up.
Will I force it to fit my outline if my characters suddenly take an unexpected turn? Nope. I'll let them explore and see where it leads. It's just who I am. But if I'm lost, I now have a road map of sorts.
I doubt I'll be declaring myself a Plotter anytime soon. But at least I know I'm not allergic to outlines. Just werewolves.
How about you? What's your preference? Did I miss anything on my pros/cons list?