Article: Are you a pantser or plotter (outliner) by Teresa Smeigh

Most writers are either a pantser, which means they write by the seat of their pants or a plotter, they must have an outline to lay the whole thing out. Now there are a few people who are a combination of both and they are called plantsers.

Pantsers write one day at a time letting the story tell itself. When they start they are not sure whether it will be a novel, novella or simply a piece of flash fiction. They must be ready to scrap their work if it doesn’t work out. The pros of being a pantser mean that you can kill off a character and not have to rewrite the whole outline. The cons though mean that it is easier to get stuck since you have no plans written out to fall back on.

A plotter or planner plans their whole novel before they start writing. They methodically plan it out from start to finish. It can be scribbled on a piece of scrap paper or neatly written out. This is great for people who don’t want to go off plot because they can’t focus. They don’t want to go off their original plan. The pros are that they hardly have writer’s block. The cons though are really rough as a change in the story means rewriting the whole outline each and every time they decide to change something.

Although I am a pantser for the most part, for this memoir I am writing, I am writing an outline of sorts. I want it chronological so I have written out my table of contents and occasionally I do end up having to add chapters or move them around as my memory kicks in with another memory or I remember the actual date.


Advocate for mental health and invisible illnesses, also a devout Christian

Author – (this blog contains my old work mostly although occasionally I do add something new here), new work is mainly on this blog

3 thoughts on “Article: Are you a pantser or plotter (outliner) by Teresa Smeigh

  1. DB McNicol

    I am a pantser, starting my novels with a dead body, a setting, and a few characters. I never know who the killer is or even how the victim was killed when I start. My newest WIP is taking a bit more planning since a good 1/3 of it will be set back in the 1960s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tessa Post author

      I am a pantser myself. I let the characters decide the plot. The only reason I considered my book as being planned is that I need to have things in chronological order and memories keep coming to me and I have to reset the Table of Contents.



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