Outliners, Pantsters and Webbers

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

As I’m sure you’ve probably heard, in the writing world, there tends to be two kinds of writers. Outliners and Pantsters. Outliners pre-plan and organize their work to get the most out of their talent. Pantsters are those fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants creatives, who build their stories while their characters are whispering in their ear. There are ups and downs to each approach. Although most people will staunchly defend their drafting approach, I also think most writers will tell you there are positives and negatives to each style.

I’ve always considered myself a pantster. I’m allergic to outlines. Seriously, even with the book written–I have trouble writing the outline. *not-so-fondly-remembers-a-27-page-outline-while-on-submission* But this week there has been a revelation. I’m not a pantster or and outliner.




What is this???

It’s that gray middle ground between pants and outlines. As I’ve been researching and brainstorming my WIP, I’ve come to realize that I don’t write without a plan, but my plans don’t look or act like outlines. They aren’t rigid and they don’t have a lot of structure. They look more like story webs, lists and thought bubbles. They are thought stew. They are bits and pieces of ideas I move around until a pattern of connections emerges. 80% of this happens in my head and about 20% of this gets scrawled on paper in a very messy fashion. (Mostly to indulge my love of notebooks) but also to ground the thinking process with the motion of the hand. I draw timelines. I dash out thoughts that interest me, even when I have no place for those thoughts in my current web. But I store them anyway, because I believe they might eventually belong–when I’m smart enough to understand my own story.

I’m a webber–plotting and planning in a pattern that is all my own.

Who are you?

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  1. I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantster!

  2. OMG! I’m a webber, too! Who knew? (I’ve probably been in denial because I hate spiders. *grin*)

    Most of my webs (plot points, character connections, etc.) are in my head, but I also keep VERY MESSY notebooks that no one except me could possibly decipher. It wouldn’t look organized to anyone else, but it works for me.

  3. I’m a notebook lover too! It’s kind of obsessive. I buy one almost every time I see one. Hmmm, what kind of writer am I? I have been known to write an entire paragraph on the palm of my hand, pulled over on the side of the road because that’s when my eureka moment happened 🙂 My desk, and walls, are covered in pieces of scraps, dunkin donut napkins and post its. I think my form of writing would best be described as blurtable rantings of characters and story scraps that I then knit together. So I’ve just discovered I’m a schizophrenic-pantsy-webber!

  4. OMG! I’m a webber! I’ve been doing that with this whole second book. I also love notebooks that no one can understand! We need a club.

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