MPL Writers Group

Plotter, Pantster, or Plantser?

There are three categories of writers, depending on how they write and how they prepare their manuscripts. These categories include plotters, pantsers, and plantsers. 

Below are examinations of each category and their advantages and disadvantages.


What Are Plotters?

Plotters plan out their books before writing them. For plotters, outlining their book is the most important step before writing. Often, outlines are important because they help structure the story and aid the writer in completing their work. Plotters know what will happen in the story before they write it and want some clarity before proceeding into the writing process. A plan gives these types of writers some energy and intent, which enables them to save a tremendous about of time before the writing begins.


Advantages Of Being a Plotter:

  • Planning out their book helps beat writer’s block and it is harder to get stuck in once you know what happens next
  • Since their books are planned, that means the writing process is smoother

Disadvantages Of Being a Plotter:

  • Plotters are confined to their outline, which leaves no room for change
  • If something needs to be changed, then the outline needs to be changed, which can be a grueling process for writers



What Are Pantsers?

Pantsers are often said to write “by the seat of their pants,” meaning they do not have an outline or any kind of plan. They just keep writing and see where the story takes them, and let their characters take them to the end. Pansters have the benefit of writing without an outline and feeling free of not having a writing plan set in stone.


Advantages Of Being a Pantser:

  • They have the freedom to take the book however they want and are more flexible without having to obey an outline
  • Pantsers can do away with characters they don’t like, and change as many story elements as they want or need to thanks to added flexibility

Disadvantages Of Being a Panster:

  • They get stuck much easier without a plan or outline
  • They have to create solutions on the fly, or more often than not, give up on their old projects to pursue new ones
  • Multiple redrafts and rewrites and more editing would be required, which would burn out the writer in the long run


What Are Plantsers?

Plantsers embody both qualities of the plotter and the pantster. For example, a plantser could write a synopsis and come  up with ideas to help drive their story. Some might even outline subplots and characters but may go free-for-all on the main plot. Ideally, all writers are plantsers who lean on one side heavily in one form or another. Being a planster is considered being in the middle ground in the writing world and-depending on the writer-have the advantages and disadvantages of both plotters and pansters.


Which Category Is Right For Me?

This question depends on the writer. Do you like your characters and story setting planned out, or do you feel comfortable writing on a blank sheet to explore the characters and setting? Do you like sticking with a blueprint or do you want to go experimental? Do you want to see where the story goes but feel the need to outline some character and setting details? It all depends on the writer, and what the writer is most comfortable with. Either way, it is helpful to know what your strengths and weaknesses as a writer in order to succeed in writing and completing your projects.



Additional Resources:

The Write Practice – Panster, Plotter, and Plantser: The 3 Dominant Types of Writers

One Stop For Writers – Know Your Writer’s Type – How To Plan A Story: Are You A Plotter, Panster, Or Plantser?

Medium – Rachel Arsenault – Plotter, Pantser, Plantser: What Are They, And How Do You Know The Type You Are?

Masterclass – Plotters vs Plantsers: What Kind Of Writer Are You?

TCK Publishing – Writing Quiz: Are You A Plotter Or A Pantser?