Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#IndieLife: Pantser or Plotter? #IAmWriting

Welcome back to Indie Life.

Are you pantser or a plotter? When I started my writing career in 2008 the first thing another author asked me was this question. I had no idea what they meant. She explained to me that some writers (pantsers) write by the seat of their pants while other writers (plotters) have to plot everything out.

So are you a pantser or a plotter?

Up until 2012 I would have told you that I was a pantser. In fact I wrote this blog post about my writing process during my first book, Calico.

"With so many characters in my head fighting for my attention it can be hard at times to organize my own writing process. I have to admit. I am a pantser. If there were a group called Panster Anonymous I would be their leader. Can you see it now, “Hello, my name is Allison Bruning. I drive writing professors nuts. I am a writer who flies by the seat of her pants then sits down to organize her characters, plots and what ever else needs structure. I am a pantser.” Yeah that’s me. I’m well known to write three copies of the same novel then merge them together into one storyline. I’m also known to start a story, research while writing it then incorporate the research into the storyline. I’ll edit chapter by chapter as I go, inserting information here and there. With Calico, I really didn’t have the interesting details about Hunting Bear until around my third draft. He just wasn’t speaking to me about his motivations until the story was almost completed. I knew he wanted to hurt Calico and I knew it was somehow connected to Alexander but that didn’t come to my story until much later. I had to discover the character of the Demon Bride before Hunting Bear told me why he wanted to hurt Calico. Once the Demon Bride storyline was open up to me, I went back into my story and added the missing chapters and details that were not only vital but missing from my storyline."

Today I just look back at that blog post and laugh. I was such a mess. All I can say is thank heavens for graduate school. I had tried my hand at outlining a story before but it had never seemed to work for me. Let's just face it. I was a lazy writer. I didn't want to take the time to outline when I could have been writing.

Graduate school changed all of that for me. I was introduced to Syd Field's paradigm.

FINALLY! A visual format to use when plotting a writing project. I am a very visual person. I'm a great writer and can write an outline for you but my thoughts easily sway when faced with a long list. But if you present the information to me in a visual format I can retain it longer. I love using the paradigm. One of the blessings that I have found while using it is that I don't face too many of the problems I had when I was writing Calico. The paradigm is the anchor in which my story can hold to form while I am writing. If I feel a character is trying to lead me in a different direction then all I have to do is look back to the paradigm and remember where I was going.

My novels are tighter. My stories are richer. My characters are deeper. All in all I have become a better writer because I am using the paradigm to plot out all of my stories.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 


  1. Talk about irony. We just had this conversation, and then I come across this in my Bloglovin' feed tonight as I am trying to fall asleep. ...I am a hopeless pantser. Always have been, probably always will be. It's the Aspie and ADHDer in me. Which is hysterical, when I think about it really, because everything else in my life is beyond long as you don't look at my closet.

    1. I started as a panser but then I learned to organize my writing. I get more done that way.