ARE YOU A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?
What does that mean? To a writer, it describes how you go about your writing process.
A “plotter” means that the writer starts by making an outline before the first sentence of the novel is written. She knows how the story starts, where it’s going and she knows the ending. She knows every character, what they’re going to do, where they’re going and when. Sure, once and a while she might change her mind and stray from her outline—she’s not inflexible, after all—but there will still be a revised outline and a clear ending in mind. For some people, that works. For some, that’s too restrictive.
A “pantser” is a writer who “flies by the seat of her pants.” She has an idea for a story, starts writing, and lets the characters and the story take her where they will. It’s fun, it’s creative, and it works. Most of the time. Sometimes you can write yourself into a corner. Sometimes you can go off on tangents. But the creative freedom the pantser enjoys far outweighs, for them, the plotting and organizing that the plotter goes through prior to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).
Whichever type of writer you are, each has its merits and there are excellent authors from both camps. As writers, we all have our preferences, and we all agree—whatever process works for you is the right (write) one!