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June 5, 2014

Plotter or Pantser or Hybrid, Oh My! by Kathy Ivan

I posted this on another blog that I write for and they found it interesting, so I thought I'd share it with you wonderful people who read the Princesses blog.  Plus I wanted to show off the cool header that I've got for my books.  (Isn't it cool?)  

Ever wonder what style of writer you are?  As a reader, have you asked yourself, gee, I wonder where they came up with that idea?  Everybody seems to have their own technique or ritual or personal voodoo they go through before they start a new book.  Here are a few. 

PLOTTER:  A writer who needs to know from beginning to end exactly what is going to happen in the story.  This seems to be especially important when you're writing mysteries or suspense.  After all, you need to know who the hero and heroine are as well as the villain.  You need to have a firm grasp on what needs to happen each step of the way, where to lay the foundation of the story, exactly where to feather in all the red herrings to keep the reader on their toes.  And you especially need to know exactly when, where, why and how the "big black moment" takes place, because that's where you wrap up everything with a nice big bow and can finally write the end.  Plotters have been known to write up complete character descriptions for each person in the book, detailed maps of the city/town/village where they story takes place.  Any and all details that are important to their story all get written down.  We may even write a long synopsis of the entire story, pages and pages of outline, before the first word ever appears on the actual manuscript page.

PANTSER:  A pantser is a writer who is the complete opposite of a plotter in every way.  A pantser doesn't write down an outline or a synopsis before they start.  They basically don't have a clue where the story is going to go.  Instead, they sit down at their keyboard (or pull out their writing pad) and away they go.  They fly by the seat of their pants—hence the name pantser.  A kernel of an idea will begin the pantser writer on their trek, and like the reader, they don't know where the story will take them until they've written it.  It can make for a bumpy but oh-so-worth-it ride.

HYBRID:   A hybrid writer is generally a combination of the two types listed above.  They need to know the basics or bones of the story and the storyline before they start.  They know the main characters; the hero, heroine, and the villain and probably know where they need to end up.  With a much smaller amount of foreknowledge, the hybrid writer weaves the basic structure they've constructed from a few known facts and begins their travels along the path to a completed story, very similar to the pantser writer.  Some structure goes a long way to keeping the hybrid write on track, too.

I'll admit, I'm a hybrid writer.  Especially with my romantic suspense, I find it imperative that I know a fair amount about my main characters, and where I want their journey to take them.  I have a general outline of the very beginning of the action, a few key points that need to happen, and what the big climax of the mystery/suspense/resolution is.  The rest is written wherever the characters lead.  And believe me they can lead to some really unexpected places.  J 

So, what type of writer are you – a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?  Or do you have a completely different style that you use.  I'd love to hear how you get from the beginning to the end.


1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Hi Kathy,
I'm a hybrid author. I have to have the basic bones of the plot down, but that doesn't mean that I know what the next scene is going to be. So many times I get in the book and realize I need to add a scene here to make this happen. But I have to know where I'm going. I look at my story board as my map to get to the end. But I could take a detour along the way.