Pantsing vs Planning

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In the writing world, there are two terms which are popular. Pantsing and Planning. What are they?
Pantsing: When you write a story with no planning at all. You sit and write. The story and characters come to life as you write. You have no idea what the story is about, nor how it’ll turn out until you write it.

Planning: When you take time before you officially begin writing your story to create lists, notes and the like. Planners will likely have an item called the “story bible”, which contains everything from the rules of your fictional world, sketches of maps, character sketches and more. The story bible is pretty fun to create, though a writer could spend so much time on it that it takes awhile to begin the actual writing.

I’ve tried both ways, and I tend to do a little of both. If a novel is going to be part of a series, then some planning goes into it. If I get stuck on anything, I’ll use a tool to gain inspiration. Some of the tools I use? Online story generators, tarot cards, Story Forge cards and generator die (weather dice, injury dice, class/job dice, ect.). At times I use multiple tools and figure out how they can work together, either in a scene or in a chapter to move the story forward. If it doesn’t work, I can always redo those parts of the story in the drafting process.

I’d recommend having a story bible of some kind. After you finish a scene or chapter, you want to keep track of what you’ve written so far. One example that I see often while reading eBooks? Giving one description in a scene (blue eyes as an example) and the same person having brown eyes later on, without the use of contacts. The author themselves forget which details they gave characters or places. They wouldn’t have that issue if they had created a story bible. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A spiral notebook or even the Notes app on your phone or tablet will work. Personally I use an app called NoteMaster, which I’ll go into more detail on in a future post. I’ll also explain what I used before that in yet another post.

If you’re just starting out with writing, I would recommend trying both methods and see which one feels right to you. Some authors will say that one is the right way and the other is wrong, but it really is about which one makes you more productive. Throw in a little of each like I do. Just make sure you keep the timeline and descriptions consistent, otherwise your readers will call you out on it.

Ready for the pros/cons?

Pantsing

Pro

  • Flexibility – A pantser isn’t confined to a rigorous outline, so if there’s something about the story they don’t like, they can easily get rid of it and it likely won’t affect the story much because everything else can easily fall into place.

Cons

  • A pantser is likely to get stuck while writing the story.
  • Multiple novels unfinished. A pantser is likely to abandon one piece of work to begin another one. This could be a neverending cycle, until the pantser gives up writing altogether.

Planning

Pros

  • A planner knows what will happen in the novel before they begin writing it. When a planner gets stuck, they can simply look back on their notes and continue on from there.
  • Novels are able to be written at a faster pace.

Cons

  • If something doesn’t work for the planner, they will likely have to redo their whole novel either from the beginning or when they noticed they mesed up something major in the story. This could lead to many hours’ worth of wasted work.

So, which category do you fit into? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with those who might be struggling? Where do you fit in these categories? Perhaps you’re one of the people mentioned earlier who are a combination of the two? Leave a comment bel. ‘Til later!

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