I’m a Pants Plotter

I SEE this question being asked all the time: plotter or panster? In other words, do you outline first, or do you begin with an idea and let the story take you where it wants?

There’s an argument for an against both ways of going about it. Some would say plotting in advance is stilted and unimaginative. Others would say panstering (that’s a word now) leads to a meandering story with no structure.

I’m a little of both.

Generally my book ideas are endings. I don’t know if that sounds weird or not. It’s just the way my brain works. I see the end of the story and then work backwards. I buy a notebook or journal just for that story and write down ideas as they occur to me for months and months until I feel like I have enough material to get started. Then I organize that material into a rough outline.

Meanwhile, I start writing the first chapter.

Then I write random chapters or scenes.

Then I reorganize my outline.

Then I realize my original ending–the whole idea of the book–is garbage or doesn’t fit anymore.

Then I scrap half the outline.

Then I write Chapter Two.

Then I write the penultimate chapter.

Then I abandon the entire project for two months and cry myself to sleep every night.

Finally, I return, finish, and begin editing.

So I’m not a plotter or a panster. I’m some mutated freak blend of the two, and that’s okay . . . right?

With love,


P.S.–If you’re having trouble developing your story, I offer–as part of my critiquing & editing services–assistance to authors who need a second set of eyes on their outline or help building one from scratch. Reasonable rates. Aweome results.

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