Highs & Lows of Not Planning Your Draft Novel #writers #writing

A pantser is a writer who writes through the unknown, which means they don’t plan or plot anything. They just sit down and write whatever comes into their head.

The opposite to a pantser is a plotter. This writer likes control and they like to know where they are going with a story. They plot and plan every scene, chapter and story thread.

As I am someone who does not plan her novels here are the highs and lows:

The highs…

  • Starting a story. Pantsers love starting stories. Sitting down to start writing a story is like entering a strange and enchanted forest for Pantsers. It is an exciting time as they don’t know what they will find on their writing journey. They might find literary magic or they might find literary beasties, but they don’t care as it is the thrill of the unknown that puts a huge goofy grin on their face.
  • The freedom to stray from the path. Pantsers love straying from the path in a story. They like having the ability to take their story off in a completely different direction, whenever they feel like it. I can hear the groans from all you plotters out there. Pantsers hate control. They like to be free and go wild when let loose on a sheet of paper.
  • The joy of discovering new characters…half way through a story. Pantsers love finding new characters. As they journey deeper into their enchanted forest new characters will spring out from behind trees and pop out of holes in the ground shouting “surprise!”  It is so much fun being a pantser because you don’t know who you are going to meet from one chapter to the next.

The lows…

  • Crater sized plot holes. We tend to attract crater sized plot holes. This carefree writing approach has its drawbacks. They are normally so big there is no hope of crossing them so we are normally the ones rewriting half our stories.
  • Middle Mayhem. The middle of a story or a novel is tough for us pantsers as we are having to make things up on the hop. Plus all that excitement at the start will have taken its toll on our brains making us weary. Our plotter writer friends will be busy following their detailed plan which will make us green with envy. The enchanted forest can go dark and sinister on us very quickly as we find ourselves not having a clue about which way to go.
  • Painful editing. Editing can be uncomfortable for any writer but I think the pain levels are increased for pantsers. We have to make sense of what we wrote whilst we were getting carried away with meeting a random character in chapter four and we have to question why we went off on a wild goose chase in chapters eight, nine and ten.

Good luck in those enchanted forests pantsers!

Have a great day!


photo credit: Philip Dehm <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/48295183@N02/5989642101″>Sarah</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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Lucy Mitchell lives in South Wales with her husband, her two teenage daughters, a giant labrador and a gang of unruly cats. Lucy is the author of the award winning blog, BlondeWriteMore and was a Featured Romance Author on Wattpad. When she’s not working or writing, Lucy can be found listening to audiobooks in a muddy field with her dog or sat outside her local pub in the sunshine enjoying a glass of wine. Her debut novel Instructions Falling In Love Again is OUT now and already pulling in some fabulous reviews ❤️

52 thoughts on “Highs & Lows of Not Planning Your Draft Novel #writers #writing

  1. I’m a Virgo, I should be a Plotter… Lists of everything usually in my life…. But I tend to adopt the Pantser style for writing too.
    Another low… When you have a folder full of amazing stories you have started, but no way to finish them, because of your Pantser style…
    But a high is when you do finish a seemingly impossible story, purely through on the spot imagination!!

    1. Me too… but I’m a panster AND I finish my stories. The first ones might not make sense anymore, but if you keep writing and finishing, eventually even the plots will come naturally to you happy panster! 🙂
      Happy writing!

      1. Thanks Barb! I never say never, so even though there are some unfinished. .. I hope I will one day complete!!! When motherhood and teaching give me some extra time! 😊

    2. I am a Virgo too – OMG!!! I also think I should be a plotter too! Wow we are on the same wave length! Yes agree on the folders but I am finishing mine so feel like I have crossed that hurdle!

      1. No wonder we clicked! Lol!!!! I will finish them too… that’s another thing … I can’t leave things unfinished… it’ll just take time!
        Another idea for your lists. .. writer styles by zodiac!!!! 😉

      2. Haha! The Writing Virgo is a pantser who eventually will write in the dark and write the perfect novel! 🙂 For inspiration you can always check Dean Wesley Smith, he has written a book about Writing in the Dark! 😉
        I have always finished my stories because I didn’t know any better… but then, I grew up in the age of the typewriter! 😀
        Happy writing to us all!

  2. I’d tried the panster way about 2 years ago for a NanoWrimo event. I got lost in my own world at 35,000 world count and haven’t been back there since 😓 Maybe one day I’ll journey back there when the time is right. Thanks for this post!

  3. hehe, I’m with you in the enchanted forest, Lucy 🙂 That bit about characters springing out of a hole in the ground made me laugh – that’s exactly what it’s like! ‘Oh, hello, who are you?’ ‘I’m the plot point you’ve been looking for.’ ‘Oh, okay, better write you in then’ 😀

    1. I was going to link you as this post came off a memory of the Bloggers Bash – where you and I were laughing about being Pantsers! It was such a fab conversation as you understood me lol!

  4. I am a plotter. Or I was. My current WIP has thus far thoroughly thwarted all attempts to keep to its carefully outlined plan. Still, as I now am entering the homeward stretch, I’ve discovered it may just arrive at the ending I always intended. I guess my characters simply didn’t care for my GPS.

  5. You said it, Sister. I swear, every single one of these things happens to me, especially the lows… though I’ve yet to actually have to rework an entire novel… partly because I’ve never finished a novel. But I feel like this will be my issue. I am a Pantser all the way. It’s terrible and wonderful all at once. 🙂

  6. I try to avoid the crater-sized plot holes by doing a little bit of plotting so I have some idea of where I’m going but I don’t always know how I’m going to get there.

  7. I am 3 chapters into a new novel and I have plot holes like moon craters already… but, the fun for me is, working out how to solve it. I love the creativity that comes with the problem solving.

  8. I’m a pantser too! Writing any other way will kill the thrill for me. In a split second, I’ll change the ending of a story and not lose sleep over it. It’s a beautiful thing :).

  9. There have been some short stories where I’ve been a pantser. But mostly, I am a plotter. I find that structure helps me a lot, especially where every word counts.

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