Plantsers, Pros and Cons: A Guide for New Writers

It’s time for the final installment of this little guide to writing methods, and today, we’re talking about the pros and cons of being a plantser.

Now, pantser and plotter get bandied about rather freely. But plantsers don’t get quite as much discussion, despite being the group that includes most writers.

So, in case you don’t know, a plantser is someone who falls somewhere on the spectrum between plotters and pantsers.

They do some planning, but go off the rails halfway through. Or maybe they do no planning to start, jumping in to get a feel for the world, and then they step back and iron out some details for the end of the story to make sure everything gets tidied up.

They might do detailed character bibles and maps, but leave the story arcs to develop as they go.

The point is, to some degree, they plan, and to some degree, they figure it out as they go.

There are a lot of things that can go right with this method and a lot of things that can go wrong.

So let’s go over a couple.

We’ll start with the benefits.

1. Freedom to adjust as necessary.

A major part of this writing style is centered around the belief that not everything is going to be planned out perfectly ahead of time. Things may need to change later on, and that’s okay.

This method allows the freedom to step away from the outline as needed.

2. Enough structure to cut back on writer’s block.

Of course, the dreaded block is still possible in any writing method, but having a plan of some sort, even if it’s just five bullet points and a page of backstory for your main character(s), can help alleviate the dread of staring at a blank page.

3. Those blessed A-Ha moments.

With this writing method, those wonderful little epiphanies can happen during the plotting stage AND during the writing stage, spurring you on in either part of the journey.

And now, some of the cons.

1. Meandering plot lines.

All that freedom means that sometimes the plot can wander a bit too far. There’s always the chance that you could get caught up in a tangent, falling down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with the main storyline, but it catches your fancy and you go chasing after it.

(Sound familiar? That’s because this is a potential pitfall of pantsing, covered in part one of this series.)

2. Writer’s block.

All that freedom could lead to uncertainty. Details, or even major events, that haven’t been ironed out ahead of time could trip you up later on, causing delays.

3. Rigidity.

You could end up sticking too close to the outline, even when the characters have grown into something different than you originally planned. This could lead to stunted characters. It could also lead to pacing issues if the story or characters develop at a different rate than you originally anticipated. (This might sound familiar, as it’s a potential pitfall of plotting that we discussed in part two of this series.)

Basically, all the potential pros of pantsing and plotting apply, as well as all the cons. Really, it comes down to how you mix and match the two writing methods. The biggest strength of this method is that you have the flexibility to pick and choose exactly which part of the other two to keep and which to discard.

And really, finding what works for you is the most important thing. Every writer is different. We all have different backgrounds and personalities.

There is no one right way to write a book.

That’s important to remember. There are many people who swear by plotting things out, and many who swear by writing by the seat of your pants.

I fall into the latter category, but I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

So, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve written 20 books, if a piece of writing advice doesn’t work for you, throw it out. What’s important is that you finish your book.

The rules about how to write a book are more like guidelines and should be treated as such.

Play around with different writing methods until you find what works the best for you and keeps you writing all the way to the end of the book.

Come back next week for part one of my next blog series, Graphic Design Tips for Authors. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on all my book releases and giveaways, get exclusive content and sneak peeks, and even receive a free short story at sign-up.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

TV, Movies, and Other Sacrificial Lambs

Hello, all!

Today, i wanted to give budding writers, readers, and just plain old curious folks a little glimpse of the sacrifices made to write. Because writing a book, let alone multiple books, is not a passive process. it takes time, a hell of a lot of patience, and a ton of work.

So, here goes.

One of the first things to go, for me, was tv and movie time. I usually watch a bit with my husband while we eat, but beyond that…it’s just background noise.. we occasionally have a binge day, where I set my writing aside for a few hours, but that’s like…every couple weeks.

Now, for me, that was an easy thing to do. I’d already sacrificed these poor creatures to the OCDemons when I was a kid. Remotes were “dirty,” as was the couch, even though nothing in the house I grew up in was ever all that dirty. It just violated the rules set forth by my OCD.

So, tv and movies were never a huge part of my life. For some, this is a big problem.

But you can’t expect a book to materialize in front of you, with your name on the cover, if all you do after work is sit in front of a tv for hours on end.

Not unless you want it to take about 20 years.

Now, video games have been harder to let go.

When I was younger, these, too, were sacrificed at the alter of the OCDemons. But after college, they were resurrected. And they found me.

Hell, for a while, when Final Fantasy XIV came out, my husband and I would alternate nights, and that was just…what we did. One of us played, and the other either did chores, or watched. Then, the next night, it switched. We did that for months.

And don’t even get me started on Skyrim or Fallout 4. I sank so much time into those games, and I loved every second of it.

But I want to write. I want to, eventually, make a career out of writing so I can write even more. That means cutting out other things to make time for it.

So, I put less time into video games.

And…all my other various hobbies. Lol.

And…also some social time.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it takes work and dedication.

And if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to put in the effort of writing a book, you may as well put in the effort to do it right. That means learning about grammar, and style, and flow, and character arcs, and so many other things…In addition to writing time.

So, anyone beginning a writing career, balance is going to be hard. You’re going to have to give up a lot. But if it’s your dream, do it. Make time for loved ones, of course, but if it comes down to choosing between watching a show you’ve seen several times or hammering out a chapter…

You know what you have to do.

Readers…please just appreciate the effort that goes into a book. As a ton of online posts would say, “feed an author, leave a review.” Lol.

But seriously, leave reviews.

Amazon doesn’t put books into certain featured lists until they get a certain number of reviews. They’re pretty important.

Anyway, I’ll stop ranting and raving for now. It’s been a pretty productive week. I typed just over 6,600 words for Salt and Silver, and have a chapter handwritten. Then, just the epilogue and I might add a chapter. I’ve got it planned, and it’ll help with balance and closure, but it isn’t completely necessary.

We’ll see. I’ll probably write it, and then go through the story with and without it. Then…it may face the guillotine.

Either way, I’m getting so freaking close to being done with the first draft. And the closing line of the last chapter…

I can’t tell you (literally, because spoilers) how happy I am with it. That one line wraps it all up so damn nicely.

I still have to type that part up, and I’m genuinely looking forward to typing that last line. It won’t be the last part I type, because I’ll still have to do the epilogue. But I want to get to that part of the story, again. The rush of it when I wrote it out by hand…

*sighs contentedly*

Well, for now, I’ll be signing off.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.