How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?
There is an age old argument between writers: To Pants or Not to Pants. Pantsing, or the act of writing without plotting in advance, is a practice that about 50% of the writing populace embraces. On the other side of the boxing ring are the plotters, who decide what is going to happen before they start writing anything.
Then there are those who pants and plot. These individuals will do limited plotting before diving in and pantsing the rest of their novel. So, how can I hold the position that 50% of the writing populace participates in the art of pantsing while the other 50% participate in the art of plotting?
Because the hybrids do both, I count them as members of both sides. But, that’s not the point.
The point is, it is possible to plot before pantsing.
The Basics of an Outline
Outlines are the basics of a story, often including the main event and character arcs in the story. Outlines take many forms, ranging from barebones skeletons with little detail to the complete detailing of a story without the actual narrative. For the pantser, the outline is more often nothing more than a basic summary of what the story is about.
This way, it doesn’t feel like the story has already been written.
However, there are many other ways that a pantser can plan without plotting, and I think this is misunderstood by much of the plotting community.
Pantsing doesn’t necessarily mean without plan. It does mean without a complex, complicated, or completed outline, however. There are many ways a pantser might prepare to write a novel without crossing into true plotting territory. Here are a few of them.
Many people like pantsing because it allows them to create characters and develop them as they write. That said, I know many a pantser (myself included) who writes up the basics of a character in a rough outline format. This can include the character’s name, their place of birth, their birthday, their hair color, eye color, and anything that the writer feels is relevant to the character. By noting these little facts down, a pantser can keep their characters consistent without having planned the character out in full.
Some pantsers like making notes on a character’s basic background before writing, as this helps them decide what sort of decisions a character would make during the course of the novel.
Location, Location, Location
The location of a story is often important, but something many people don’t think through before writing a novel. Pantsers can plan out the locations their characters will visit without ruining the sense of discovery, like full outlines tend to do for them.
Balance Plotting with Discovery
Most pantsers I know, myself included, enjoy the feeling of discovery that goes hand in hand with writing a novel without doing much plotting in advance. If a pantser wants to outline or plan in advance, the most important thing is to balance the planning with maintaining the sense of discovery. The key to succeeding as a pantser while plotting is to leave just enough of a mystery. If you find yourself getting bored while writing, chances are you have planned too much for your personality and writer type.
The most important thing you should remember, whether or not you’re a plotter, a pantser, or fall somewhere in between, is that you must write in a way that suits you. Go ahead and experiment, but always remember that every writer is different, and it’s important that you find your own way and style.
Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
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