Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Planners Vs. Pantsers (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 5)

If you’re a writer, you know the terms “planner” and “pantser.” Other writers will ask you which one you are.

There are no sides, neither one of them is the “right” way to write a novel or the “wrong” way to write a novel.

Our brains and minds all work differently and we work at our own pace and rhythm. If you have great ideas and have to follow a basic outline to stick with said ideas, then go for it. If you have an awesome idea and want to see where the word flow takes you, go for it.

However, there are pros and cons to each side.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep: Planners vs. Pantsers

What is a planner?

A planner is someone who figures out most (or every) details of their novel. They outline, they plot, they character develop long before the character is created on the page, they draw maps, and do so much more. They are the definition of prepared, especially when NaNoWriMo comes along.

Pros of being a planner

  • Writer’s block doesn’t hit them that hard, if at all, since they already know what is going to happen next.
  • There’s always room for improvement. An outline isn’t set in stone, it’s a guideline. If something needs to change or new ideas pop up, the writer can add and delete.

Cons of being a planner

  • It’s a lot of work. Not to sound lazy, but creating an outline takes a lot of time, effort, and brainpower before the actual writing even begins.

What is a pantser?

A pantser “flies by the seat of their pants.” They don’t go in with any sort of plan (or something even an idea). They just go with the flow and see what happens next.

Pros of being a pantser

  • Flexibility. Since they have no outline, they can do whatever they want to their characters and create twists and turns. There are no limits.
  • They can dive right in. Do you want to write a story right now? Go right ahead. No ideas? That’s okay, just write whatever comes into your mind.

Cons of being a pantser

  • They may get writer’s block and that can put their story on hold for a long time.

Of course, take these pros and cons with a grain of salt. Like I said, there is no right or wrong side. There is no right or wrong way to write a novel.

As long as you have an active imagination, that’s all that matters.

Are you a planner or pantser? Let me know in the comments below!

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

32 thoughts on “Planners Vs. Pantsers (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 5)

      1. I am planning a romantic mystery with help from a ghost. There’s a lot to it and my mind is bouncing like crazy with the possible ideas. So an outline may be the best way to handle the murder traits and the discovery of clues. It’s driving me crazy to figure out how to write it out.

      2. That sounds so cool!
        I write mystery and I agree that you should have an outline if that’s what will work for you. The way I outline my mysteries is lay out the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of the crimes. That would give you a good foundation at least.

      3. That makes a lot of sense. Obviously, I’ve never done mystery because simply writing out the big who, what, where, when, why, and how seems like an easy start to getting the outline going.
        Thanks!!

  1. I straddle both worlds so I’m a plantser! I plan my outlines but don’t follow it strictly. Leave it up to my imagination and my characters to make the story come alive. Of course there’s the occasional deviation from the story but often than not those changes were better than what I originally outlined. Proof that my characters know what they’re doing.

  2. I think you can tell whether you are a planner or a pantser based on which of those negatives would be a bigger problem for you. Personally I would prefer to spend a heap of time on planning than get stuck and have no idea where to go next, thus I am a planner.

  3. I don’t know where I sit anymore. Somewhere in the middle I suspect. I started out thinking I was a planner, then planned myself into a corner and never wrote. Then I opted for NaNo and just wrote, and ended up re-writing the WHOLE THING. Now I sort of write a bit, plan a bit, write a bit more, do some more planning. Me thinks I need to structure myself a bit better but I’ll muddle on for now!

    1. You have to do whatever works best for you and your project. I honestly thinks it depends on what genre you’re writing. Some you need to know a lot in advance, or you should figure out first, and other projects you can just sort of make things up as you go along.

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