Pantster vs Plotter vs Plotser

I’m one of those hypbrid writers. Because of my background in analytical chemistry, I love a solid plan to accomplish a task. A + B = C. While it has its benefits in my career it’s not always great for my creative side. Without a plan, I freeze up. Research ad nauseum. Comapre and contrast. Analysis paralysis. I will make a decision and while I may project confidence in that decision, inside I’m usually a quivering mess.

Because of this I tend to approach my writing in much the same way.: make a plan. This plan will involve charts and graphs and questionnaires. I’ll outline and research. I’ll build profiles for my characters so I know not just what they look like, but how they’ll react.

It’s great for the beginning of the stories but not so much when my characters decide they don’t like what I’ve planned and detour from the plan and that happens more then I like to admit. (Stubborn characters!) I can try and force them back on the plan but it rarely works. This is when my pantser personality has to come out and go with the flow.

The great thing about plotting is that it’s a goal for me and I’m very much a goal-oriented, task-oriented person. I like having that direction. With romance we know the end goal is going to be that HEA. The steps inbetween first meet and final resolution are the tasks I need.

I took a great workshop recently entitled Patchworking the Perfect Plot by Suzanne Johnson that appealed to both sides of my personality. We built lots of guides and plans (plotting) and then filled in the gaps. I didn’t feel trapped by my plotting side, or left adrift by my pantser side.

One of the greatest things I learned in Suzanne’s workshop involved creating relationship arcs. There are, of course, different levels of relationships between the characters in a story. Secondary characters may have just a cursory relationship with one another or a major character. For some reason, this information helped soothe the pantser in me. My character profiles told me how an individual character would react but reactions are built on interactions and the arc showed me that interaction.

How do you overcome the obstacles to your writing?

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