Saturday, October 16, 2010

By the Seat of One’s Pants

In the writing community, a “pantser” is one who writes without an outline or a written plan (or, by “the seat of one’s pants”). I most definitely belong to this tribe.

Outlining isn’t in my writing processes, which is rather strange since I’m a diligent planner about everything else. But when I sit down in front of the computer to write, I just have to go into the story. I have a general idea of the plot, but I just can’t picture the end before I get there.

I have to be “in” the scene as I write it. Usually, I think of ideas while I’m trying to sleep, in the car, or otherwise nowhere near my computer. The next day, I know what’s going to happen and write it down. If there is a specific phrasing that I just love, I write it down in my notebook (it’s usually indecipherable; that’s why I don’t hand write much). Sometimes in the notebook, I’ll write a little flowchart of what’s going to happen. I guess that’s a bit like outlining.

Well, I guess there is one point where I outline: after I’ve finished. It’s the only way for me to look at the story as a whole, decide what to keep, what needs more, and where POV jumps to another character. But at heart, I’m a pantser. And not just because I steal people’s pants. Everyone has their own way to write.


  1. I actually admire pantsers! It amazes me how a story flows from you without knowing in advance where you're going.

    I need an outline, even though mine are very loose. I need some sort of road map to keep me on course.

  2. I guess I have sort of a mental outline, because I do map it out in my brain. What amazes me is how detailed some people can make theirs.


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