Friday, October 1, 2010

Plotter, Pantser, or Puzzler?

The question applies to your writing style. Mainly, how you get the story onto the page.

Plotter – (that’s me) Very linear thinking. Start with “Once upon a time” and continue on to “…and they lived happily ever after.” Love flowcharts, Excel files, spreadsheets, and plotting boards.

Pantser – The story is all in your head, you just have to put it down on the paper. Sometimes new ideas will hit your brain and you just go for it – literally write by the seat of your pants.

Puzzler – Write the story in pieces, whichever one hits you at the moment, piece together later, like a puzzle. Also called islands and bridges, which I like a lot.

Each way is the right way – for someone. That is the joy of writing. There is no right way, no wrong way, just your way. You can use one of these methods or a combination of the above, or make up your own methods of getting the story out of your head onto the page.

One thing I have learned: each method can’t understand how someone uses the other method. Plotters go nuts listening to puzzlers say they just write whichever scene is ‘hot’ in their brain and they will figure out later where it goes. Pantsers don’t want to plot because they feel the story is already done if they write it all out in detail.

There are grammar rules and submission rules and probably some other rules too that I missed, but isn’t it nice to know there are no rules for how you write your story?

Are you a plotter, pantser, or puzzler?


Sheila Tenold said...

I'm a combo, Jill. A plotter who writes a detailed synopsis before writing the scenes. However, during the discovery process I often MUST write a privotal scene when it comes to me in one big brain dump. So call me a plotter-puzzler combo.

Jill James said...

Sheila, that is an interesting combo. I think it would kill me to write a scene out of context. LOL I'm very anal-retentive that way.

Lee Lopez said...

You know me, I fly by the seat of my pants, most of the time. There are days, though I wonder how wise that is. I often lose my story before it's finished because, I don't know how to push through the last half or finish it.
I've tried plotting and those methods so far haven't worked. But I'm looking for that method that works for me. The calendar, the board, the colors that keeps me moving ahead. I know it's out there, I just need to find it.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Pantser all the way. I never outline anything and rarely makes lists and setting us a schedule would make me insane. My characters guide me, stop talking when they hate where I am taking them and jabber when they are happy. BUT I do have to write the story in order and finish one part before moving to the next. I guess it shows that I am a gemini, doesn't it. :)

Jill James said...

Lee, I think the important part is to keep looking. You will find the answer.

Jill James said...

Paisley, so could tell you were a Gemini with that answer. LOL I think a little of this and a little of that helps most people to get the job done.