Pantser Vs Plotter: Where Do You Stand?

I was asked months ago to write about the difference between Pantsing and Plotting, which are considered the two schools of author prep.  The truth is that most people are a combination of the two with more of one than the other.  I’m definitely much more of a Plotter, but I leave an opening for spontaneous ideas and change plans if something comes up when writing.  So, how can I give a fresh take on this topic?




Tease both sides with exaggerations?  Sure.  It’s nearing the end of 2019, so let’s try to get some laughs.

  1. You know you’re a Plotter when you have more notebooks than articles of clothing.  Only one of them has been filled, but damned if you know where you put that after you cleaned your area ten years ago.  One of these days, you’re going to organize the plans and figure out what you’re doing.  Just as soon as you finish another outline.
  2. You know you’re a Pantser when you put more time and effort into getting comfortable than planning your story.  Thirty minutes to get coffee, spray air freshener on your comfy pants, cook a snack, go to the bathroom, and make sure the DVR is set to tape that show your friends told you about.  Wait, what if the DVR doesn’t work?  You can’t wait for it to be on streaming . . . The idea will still be there tomorrow.
  3. You know you’re a Plotter when you scream and yell at your characters for ruining your outline.  You can’t even find paper to tear in rage since everything has notes that might be important.
  4. You know you’re a Pantser when your story goes off the rails and it’s the first time you notice there were rails to begin with.  First reaction is to point at empty air next to you and say ‘my protagonist’ did it.  This is done whether someone is there or not.
  5. You know you’re a Plotter when you’re asked about your story and you go into extreme detail.  Not only of the story, but the connected tales, your inspiration, and the type of pencil you used to write your character names.  Most people will leave before you finish, but a few will make it to the end because they became too old to hear what you’re saying anyway.
  6. You know you’re a Pantser when you’re asked about your story and you shrug.  When pressed for information, you get the genre right and utter a few plot points.  Only one of those is from your own story while the rest is what you remember from that show you DVR’d.  Oh crap, is this the friend who suggested it?  Just smile and nod until they ask how your ‘real’ job is going.  Then break into tears and run away shouting that they never had faith in you.

You know what?  I’m open to seeing if anyone can come up with others.  Have fun with it and try not to be too mean.  Enjoy.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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44 Responses to Pantser Vs Plotter: Where Do You Stand?

  1. Darlene says:

    You got the panster down pat! I don´t know about the plotter as I´ve never been one.


  2. You know you’re a plotter when you’d like to kill off that annoying character, but know he has a big moment 50,000 words from where you are today.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. L. Marie says:

    You know you’re a plotter when your logline to pitch your novel is 500 words instead of the standard one or two sentences. You know you’re pantser when it takes you four ums to describe your book. “Um I think it’s probably a girl who um goes somewhere that I have yet to figure out and meets um someone who might be the love interest and they go on an adventure, um somewhere.” 😀 😁 (I have been both.)


  4. You know you are a panster when you have given your hero at least three names as you progress through the book and for the life of you the first name is totally forgotten.. Fun one, Charles

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jyvurentropy says:

    I’m definitely in the middle. I do have notebooks where I create character maps and I have a rough bullet-points outline, but I deviate from my plans often and I don’t ever create very detailed outlines. Rough plot-markers at best and usually I change those as I go.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. invaderstim says:

    You know you’re a Pantser when you typing away and you hit a wall so you have no choice but to plot later


  7. You know your a plotter if you’re wearing pants. Pantsers may actually forget that detail.


  8. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this great post from Charles Yallowitz’s blog that asks the question: Pantser Vs Plotter: Where Do You Stand?


  9. I’m in between. It’s more that I know who my characters are and what they want, than I know 3 plot points. Also, when I feel like the story is off track I have to stop and stare at my “map” for a while.


  10. Rebecca Douglass says:

    You know you’re a Plantser when you have a 10-page outline… and it’s irrelevant after the first 20,000 words.

    Not that I’ve ever done that. Nope, never. Why are you looking at me that way?


  11. Yep, I’m a pantster. I love the fact that I get to find out what’s happening at the same time as the reader will. So what if my characters go a little off-piste? That’s the sequel, prequel or spin-off sorted at the same time.


  12. Lindsey Russell says:

    I’m a dreamster 🙂


  13. I’m such a plotter, sometimes, by the end of the day, the outline for a short story will be just a few descriptors away from being the actual short story.


  14. V.M.Sang says:

    You know you’re a pantster when you write your plan after you’ve written the story.


  15. ospreyshire says:

    Hahaha! Those are some funny insights. I’m more of a plotter when it comes to my traditional books, but I am a pantser when I write cell phone novels, but even then I still have some basic outlines.

    Yes, I own more notebooks than I do articles of clothing. Guilty as charged!


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