Linda Maye Adams

5 Ways Pantsers are Different Than Outliners


NanoWrite’s coming up in a few months, and the discussion about pantsers (people who don’t outline) vs. outliners invariably comes up.  I thought I’d discuss the 5 ways pantsers are different than outliners.

  1. We often start a story, frankly, not knowing a whole lot.
    For my current project Lightkeeper, I started with a character, a setting, and a cool piece of research that I’d run across.  I’m not even sure if it’s fantasy or science fiction yet, and I have no clue how it will end.
  2. We discover what the story is about by writing it.
    I honestly don’t know how someone can map out the entire story in an outline without writing it first.  So much of what I do is tied to things that come when I do the actual writing.
  3. We write extra scenes or go off on tangents.
    That’s part of the discovery and exploring of the story.  Sometimes it’s important to try something, even if it doesn’t get used.  When I started Lightkeeper, I tried a different main character.  I wrote a few scenes, enjoyed them immensely, but it wasn’t the right main character for the story.  But it did help develop part of the story that I’m currently using.
  4. We’re writing along, and suddenly this cool surprise pops in, and it’s like “Where that’d come from?”
    I like it when this happens because it’s often something awesome that I would have never thought of if I’d outlined, and it will always be something that makes the story less predictable.
  5. Pantsing is lot like the reader’s experience.
    The reader discovers the book by reading it word by word, scene by scene.

Any other differences you can think of?

2 Comments

  1. I often have a lot of the story written in my head. Later I may have to take a break and look for clues. I think it was a friend who said–when I bogged down–shoot someone….

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