Plotter or pantser? Neither. OR how to not bore oneself to death


When I began writing novels, I started with an outline for the first few of them. I had main points and ideas for how long it should take to write the whole thing and all sorts of useless notes about chapter length and so on. And when I began writing, I got SO FREAKING BORED. Why? Because the part that was most fun (making up a plot and characters and figuring out how to torment them) was all over by the end of my outline. The sheer drudgery of writing description and dialogue nearly killed me.

Okay, I thought. Clearly I’m not a plotter.

The next few books I wrote without an outline. I sat down and started typing away with whatever floated into my head. The frightening mist of the unknown closed around me like an evil fist. I got lost. I got so totally lost I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was doing until I wrote an outline. Then I grew bored. AGAIN.

Clearly, pantsing my way through a novel didn’t work either. (Being a pantser means you’re flying by the seat of your pants: no outline, no concept, etc.)

There must be a happy medium, I told myself as I desperately pecked away at my keyboard.

There is.

It doesn’t have a pithy name. It doesn’t fit into the “Plotter or Pantser” lingo at all. I sort of outline my novels, but I don’t write anything down. I make up characters and then I put them into sticky situations. This is what my train of thought looks like: oh, I want this character to fall in love with that one and then BAM! Bad guys show up or someone trips over themselves or whatever. I don’t give myself a road. I stand at the edge of a prairie and stare into the distance at the pass through the mountains, and then I begin typing my way there.

In one book I missed the pass entirely, but that’s okay. In another, I got to the pass, but then decided to hang-glide down the other side instead of walking.

So what does one call that? Am I a jumper? A pantser with a plot? A plot with no pants? No idea and I’m not sure I care.

Oh hey, look! There’s another mountain! *points excitedly* If anyone asks for me, I’m heading over that way…