Round Robin – Plotter or Pantser?

Regent’s Canal

Our June topic is Plotter vs Pantser – which are you and why – or how does one method work for some books and the other for a different type of story?

Writing a book might look to the uninitiated as smooth a journey as cruising on a canal. Once underway, however, there are unexpected obstacles below the surface. I might have used a picture of a gliding swan whose feet will be paddling madly out of sight.

I am temperamentally a pantser. The idea thwarts every impulse to research the probability or even the possibility of the main event. What could go wrong?

I write a lot of historical stuff. Currently I’m writing a serial set in the late nineteenth century and, guess what, cardigans weren’t yet a thing. How can that be? My character needs to twiddle with the button on her cardigan until she pulls it off. But – she wouldn’t have been wearing one in her position in society. So, how to make a positive out of a negative? She is the twiddling nervously kind of character but she just has to find something in her era to twiddle. Shawl fringes, anyone?

As a pantser I’ve had to learn to go with that initial flush or thrust of creative energy and rein it in when hitting the practicalities. It would often have saved a lot of time if I had spent more at the pre-beginning on plotting but it would have lost its exciting leap into the unknown story.

Once fixed on its prey (or by analogy having done its plotting) the owl will not be diverted. Visiting a centre and sitting around while the keeper demonstrates this behaviour can mean your hairline is parted as the bird flies over. Shivery! But, they are successful hunters.

I simply cannot do it.

How about you? Plotter or pantser?

Did I say I’d been in Turkey recently with a party of folk from the Friends of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh? Some amazing scenery, flowers and social obs from that trip. Stories in the future.

Who wore these boots?


Other robins commenting this month are:

Marci Baun

Dr Bob Rich

Anne Stenhouse

Skye Taylor

Helena Fairfax