Dieter Luske - Writer

Pantsing or Plotting

Writing with the aim of publishing opens a minefield of options and complications.

It has become nearly impossible for a non-well-known person to be accepted by a traditional publisher. Luckily for the motivated writer, other avenues are available, but that is a subject for another day.

How people write differs significantly; like with any creative pursuit, there is nothing right or wrong, just individual preferences.

There are basically two main writing styles, and after that, everything is mixed up.

What kind of writer are you?Are you ‘pantsing’ or ‘plotting’ and structured?

Let’s have a look at pantsing. – For starters, what is pantsing?

Pantsing means “Writing by the seats of your pants”, or the original metaphor, “Fly by the seat of your pants.”

Actually, most people probably start writing in the pantsing style; we all did it at school when we had to write a short story or an essay. – You get a headline delivered, and then, without much time on hand, you start writing what you know, what comes naturally to you. – The only structure or concept you would use is to write an intro, then write the high point of your story, finally sum it up, and hopefully, you have an excellent plausible resolution or happy ending. 

Anyone who can do that with a novel, writing without pre-planning and letting the story develop itself, obviously has to be highly gifted.

I can honestly say right here I am not that gifted person, and we probably can agree that there is only a minority of talented people who can pull that off.

However, I often start writing like that, a bit like writing -diarrhoea, but sooner or later, I run out of steam and start plotting.

The opposite of pantsing is plotting or planning. I think most writers are somewhere in between. It is often easier to start writing as a pantser, which can establish your primary story, and once it becomes too complex, with lots of new characters, plots, twists, and turns, planning and plotting slowly takes over.

Mt suspicion is, as longer the novel as more planning.

However, my hat off to famous pantsers, including Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Pierce Brown, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemmingway, Raymond Chandler, Virginia Woolf and many more.

Who are the famous plotters? Definitely J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, E.L. Stein and heaps more … 

My last book was written in the pantsing style; it came naturally and was chronological, with some back-stories thrown in when needed, not planned.

Are most memoirs written in a pantser style? I guess non-fiction, where the topic creates the structure, lends itself to pantsing. 

If your next project is a memoir, check out my book, “It Happened in the Seventies“. – It is a good example of a memoir, with a back-story and plot at the right places, including unexpected twists.

Being a memoir also means you will find several exciting sub-stories within that book. 

Article by Dieter Luske – Writer

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