Pantsing vs Penning vs Plotting

You guys know I’m a fairly new writer. I was a torn soul throughout high school and college. My right brain fought for the arts, my left brain fought for the sciences. Yet I’ve always had a way with words. Whether it was a literary paper or a lab report, I excelled. But when I decided to dive into fiction writing, I wasn’t certain how exactly to go about organizing my stories. So, during my writing journey, I’ve done some experimenting. Here’s how I would categorize the different methods, you know, in my own wacky Jordanna East way. 😉

  • PANTSING. Although I released Blood in the Past first, I wrote Blood in the Paint first. I wrote it “by the seat of my pants,” better known as “pantsing.” I’ve begun revisions on that manuscript and I can already tell you it’s a nightmare. It seems I changed characters’ names several times as I wrote the rough draft, and there are many other inconsistencies. While I was writing, I frequently confronted writer’s block because something I had written earlier didn’t mesh with where the story was currently going. Needless to say, we’ll file this method under: I May Not Be Pantsing Again in the Near Future. Actually, maybe we’ll just file it under plain ole No Thank You.
  • PENNING. When I wrote Blood in the Past next, I wrote it by hand, straight through, in a small notebook. This wasn’t hard, as it’s a prequel novella. I suppose this could be considered a form of pantsing, but since I already had the characters and events of Blood in the Paint in place, I just needed to write down the details of what preceded those events and extend them into their own story. Therefore, it was much easier to write. In the revisions stage, all I ended up having to do was fill in some extra scenes at the suggestions of my beta readers and editors. Not bad at all. File this method under: Will Try Again Under Similar Circumstances.
  • PLOTTING. Before I continued writing the Blood for Blood Series, I decided to take a break and work on something new: a serialized novel. To do this, I plotted each chapter briefly on a post-it note and hung it on the wall. I ended up with a series of chapters that formed five “episodes,” which made up the first “season” of my serialized series. I was so proud of myself! Until I started writing. The first episode went well enough, according to plan. The second episode? I needed a whole other set of post-its to re-plot everything before I could continue my draft. And so went each episode in the first season, rewritten in a different colored set of post-it notes. Sigh… File this method under: Waste of Colorful Post-it Notes/Thank Goodness They Were On Sale.

So what did I learn? That I can’t help it. I need to let the story flow through me…but it is helpful to have some boundaries, like the bumper lanes kiddies use when they go bowling. Just a little something to keep my story on track and to keep me from jumping from something high and windy during the revisions process.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I should probably go; my hair is really blowing around up here! 😉

18 thoughts on “Pantsing vs Penning vs Plotting

  1. I think most of use use some combination of mainly pantsing with whatever degree of plotting/planning may be personally required to keep things from spinning out of control. That’s my approach. Enjoy the experimentation 🙂 It’s fun to figure out the process that works for you! (At least, it was for me)

  2. I’m a definite plotter, but I don’t let it confine me. Even though I have the entire story mapped out, I’m free to change things once I start writing. I try to make sure the story structure is solid before I start the actual writing, though. I don’t want to have to change anything too drastically!

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  4. I’ve tried plotting and I had the same experience you did in that within a chapter, everything I’d plotted for the next chapter wouldn’t have made sense. The whole thing was frustrating… Ultimately I’m a mix of plotter and pantser… I have a vague plot for the over all story which advances as I go along, but nothing too detailed that I can’t make changes when necessary.

  5. Thank you! I tried to keep the post its to a controlled area. But the colors were nice, added a pop to the room. Lol. The pantsing felt more creative, but I can’t go through what I’m going through with the these revisions ever again. So, colorful post its, chapter-by-chapter, it is. Lol.

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