Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More from The Diary of a Pantster ~ Find Your Method

My last blog entry really forced me to think about our craft. It truly is a craft, is it not? And as I mentioned in my last diary entry, we all have our methods.

If you're new to the writing game and you're busy learning all you can about our craft and have no idea if you're a planner, a pantster or a mixture of both...get a pen and paper. Write down three columns titled Planner, Pantser, Both. Put a check mark in the appropriate column. Whichever column has the most checks, that's the method you most often choose. The longer you write, the more you will lean to one of the three and find your "zone", the perfect method for you.

Do you brainstorm before writing? If you do, put a check mark in the Planner column.

Do you look for names in a baby book for your characters? If you do, put a check mark in the Both column. This isn't really planning a plot but it is taking the time to research for a it's a little of both.

Do you make character charts for your characters? If you do, put a check mark in the Planner column.

Do you have a vague theme you would like to write about and turn on your computer and envision a scene, start typing and come up with your character's name and description on the spur of the moment? If you do, put a check mark in the Pantster column.

Do you find holes in your story and then go back and plug them up? If you do, put a check mark in the Both column. You probably tend to write by the seat of your pants, read over your manuscript and realize you left out a small detail. This is common in pantster writing but a skilled pantster will pay attention. If you do this, you are really both planner and pantster. Put a check mark in the Both column.

Do you sit down to write, your mind a blank, focus on the story you've written so far, think up a new scene and attack the keyboard? If you do, you are 100% Pantster. Put a check mark in the Panster column.

Okay, count up your check marks. We don't have to choose our method by what we hear at writing conferences or from writing friends. Choose what feels right. Hopefully this little exercise will help you to recognize your method and embrace it fully.

Happy Writing!

(Photos courtesy of


Pete Grimm said...

I love your new word! I think I must be more organized than you. I need some anchor points that an outline can provide. However, my characters sometimes surprise me, taking me in directions I hadn't planned. Sometimes they even help me get out of corners I write myself (or them) into. So at least I know what you mean about being a "panster."

Alisha said...

Thanks for stopping by, Pete! Always good to see you. Oh! I can guarantee you that you're definitely more organized than I every aspect of three kids, it is chaos around here. I find it amazing that I manage to allow my muse to lead me anywhere at all. :)

Rexcrisanto Delson said...

Hi there. I just followed your blog. Nice post. I guess I'm a little bit of all three, but predominately a pantster. Now to full embrace myself :)

Daniel Swensen said...

I love that "pantser" has become common nomenclature -- I'm definitely a pantser when it comes to most of my work, but I've been learning the hard lessons about the power of planning lately. So I'll probably end up somewhere in between. Thanks for the fun post.

Alisha said...

Thanks for stopping by, Daniel. I hear ya on the hard lessons..sigh...I've learned a few from my editor. Sometimes planning helps a pantster. As I get further and further into my books, I'm tending to plan more or risk crossing all my t's and dotting my i's. That's the hardest thing about being a pantster..plugging up those holes.