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On Writing

Outlining vs. Pantsing


Hey everyone! This is my first official post on this blog, and I thought that there would be nothing more fitting than to do a post on writing. 

As a creative writer, I have discovered that there are two different ways that you can write stories, and both are equally effective. So I thought I would explore a little bit about what each tool does and how different people use the tools.  

If you are a writer, you have probably heard the terms outliner and pantser. They are pretty familiar terms. This article is not saying one is better than the other if you are a pantser, awesome! If you are an outliner, that’s equally as awesome! I’m just here to explore what each means and some pros and cons to each tool. First, let’s define each tool.

Outliner:

An outliner is a writer who discovers their story before jumping into the process of writing it. They can do this in an extremely detailed way, or they can only nail down the bare necessities of their story. 

Pantser:

A pantser is a writer who discovers their story as they write the story. They jump right in and begin to see what happens as they go.

Those two definitions are very broad definitions and there are many other specific definitions that you can find out there. 

So let’s break down some pros to each tool. 

Outliner Pros:

  • They know how their story will end, this gives them more of an idea of how to foreshadow big events. Brandon Sanderson talks about this in his second lecture in the excellent writing class that you can watch for free on YouTube.
  • They don’t have to go back and do as much rewriting because there is a less likely chance for there to be plot holes. Again, this is because the author knows how the story will end. 

Pantser Pros:

  • Their character is more likely to be a really interesting character who develops as the story goes. This is because the author does not know who their character is and they discover them while they write their story. George R.R. Martin does this and it makes his characters, supposedly, really interesting reads (as someone who has not read his books yet I cannot personally say whether or not this is true, I’m just basing this off what the general consensus is).

Now let’s look at a couple of cons.

Outliner Con:

  • There can be less character development as the writer can be focusing more on the plot of the story, versus focusing on the plot of the story.

Pantser Con:

  • Because the writer does not know where their story is going, they can have plot holes which can result in lots of rewriting or plot holes that are left unfixed.

So, how can you avoid these cons? For an outliner one thing that a lot of authors do is interview their character while outlining, they can ask them basic questions or more complicated ones. This gives them a way to know their characters better. I have never pantsed a novel before, but I have a suggestion I think could work. When you are pantsing your novel, keep a notebook beside you, and jot down any major details so that you won’t forget them or so that you can be aware of what the reader knows. 

So what do I do?

For my current series, I plan on outlining every single book. Now, I do not plan on going super in-depth like some writers. When I outlined the first book, I discovered all my major points and who my main characters were and where they would be at the end of the story. I also explored my setting seeing where events would take place. Some authors like to outline every scene that takes place in their book, I don’t. But there is no wrong way to write your story. The way I write my story is going to be different from 99% of other writers, and that is perfectly okay. The way you write is going to be different from 99% of other writers, and that’s awesome! Each author is unique in the way that they write their story, and that is what gives us so many unique and interesting stories to read.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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