This article, by Julie Leto, originally appeared on the Plotmonkeys site on 4/28/07.
Couple of weeks ago, I asked if it would be okay with the Plotmonkey readers if we devoted a little time to the writers who join us here on the blog. Since everyone seemed amenable, I’m going to hijack the Saturday Chit-Chat for the next few weeks to present my notes from a workshop I recently did for my TARA chapter called “Plotting With Your Pants On.” Ask questions, comments, request examples and clarifications…hopefully the other monkeys will jump in too with their commentary. (Except Leslie, who is off at a conference this weekend.)
Here it is…I’ll be presenting in parts.
Plotting with Your Pants On
In recent years, two schools of thought have emerged in terms of how writers plot their books. If you’ve been in RWA long enough, you’ve heard the term “plotter” and “pantster.” The plotter being the writer who carefully and meticulously plans out every key point in the scenes, chapters and “acts” (under screenwriting’s three or four act systems, which I’ll discuss next week), does character interviews, exhaustively researches and for all intents and purposes, comes off as anal and left brained.
The pantster, on the other hand, is so named because this writer works from the seat of their pants, rather than from any definitive plan. The original term for this was “misters,” a term coined, I believe, by Jo Beverly when she gave an RWA keynote address and wrote several articles on “Flying Into the Mist,” which basically outlined her process of sitting at the computer and typing away, letting the story tell itself organically without any definitive plot to guide her. This is all very creative, very right-brained, very…literary.
Over the past few years, there has emerged a sort of factioning that disturbs me as a writer. Assumptions are made about the creativity level of one author over the other…and frankly, about the talent.
I believe very strongly that these arguments are ridiculous. But it’s easy for me because I’m a switch-hitter. I “do it both ways” as it were.