To Plot or Not to Plot Your Novel

1st June 2011
2 min read
8th December 2020

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?


Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. They may have a rough idea of the story in mind but generally fly where their imagination takes them, letting the pace be dictated by their characters.

Plotters like to know as much as they can in advance before committing to a page. They outline a great deal and can tell you in a flash their character’s favourite sandwich filling, should such an interesting question ever arise. (She likes cheese! Damn, outed myself as a Plotter.)

NaNoWriMo writers, those plucky folk who speed-write a novel in the month of November, probably employ the pantser method when building their word-count. There is something so free and delightful about letting your characters lead the way. A down-side would be the enormous amount of editing presumably needed to bring the story back on track, but some would argue that having something to edit in the first place puts them ahead.

Plotting allows for a tight-knit story but there is a danger of losing the excitement by being too tied to an outline. So I like to skip between both methods – I plot and follow a chapter plan, but allow a little bit of movement in order to let my characters sparkle.

How about you? Have you attempted NaNoWriMo?


Plotters and Pantsers:


 My blog:


I think I'm definitely a pantser. For myself part of the fun of writing a story is reading it as I'm writing. Yes there are plot points to keep the novel on track but at the same time it's fun to see the story evolve before you only having a faint idea how you'll get there, an adventure if you will.

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Luke Burnhope

This is really interesting, I never really thought about this before. I think I'm more of a 'Pantser' to be honest, I have no idea where my story is going, just writing through my characters point of view, almost letting them lead the way, (like you pointed out) I think I find it more interesting this way as I don't know what's about to pop into my head. your article has really got me thinking. Great job. :)

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Amy Storey

Hi Joy. Thanks for sharing your methods! Although I plot, I do allow for a certain amount of room for the characters to grow, and sometimes this sparks off sub-plots. So really I’m a plotter for the main story, and a pantser for sub-stories.

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Jayne ..