Plantser Writing Process: Plotter and Pantser

How the Plantser writing process can benefit not only your story but your submission process through query and synopsis. #writing #writingprocess #plantser

Plantser Writing Process - What's Your Writing Process Plotter Pantser Plantser

Writing Process

Typically, as a writer, you hear of two different camps regarding the writing process. You’re either a Plotter or a Pantser. There is no right or wrong; it’s merely a preference in how you like to write. But today, I’d like to put forth a third option to which I have recently become very fond—the Plantser writing process.

If you are a Plotter, you plan and prepare before you begin writing. You likely write extensive notes, full-blown character sketches, and an outline. You plot every twist and turn and know precisely where, when, and how your story will unfold—a planned and orderly process.

As a Pantser, you are on as much of an adventure as your reader. You may have a bare-bones plot idea and some vague characters developing in your head, but you discover the depths and frivolities of your characters and their situations as you write. You’re on an exciting journey and eager to learn what happens next. You enjoy the twists your characters heave your way and revel in unsticking them from the jams they create.

The Plantser Writing Process

Becoming a Plantser, you take the best parts of plotting and pansting and merge them into something that gives you insight into your writing as well as your story. And bonus, being a Plantser will make writing a synopsis and query letter so much easier.

Working as a Plantser

When I begin a story, I usually have some general plot and character ideas. I enjoy letting the characters drive the story. It’s even possible that I may not know who the real antagonist is until later in the book. Or maybe, I think it’s one character, and it turns out it’s another. When that happens, it’s as shocking to me as it hopefully is to the reader. Keeping mystery readers on the edge of their seats, trying to solve the puzzle is a good thing.

As I write my story, I use a Pantser process, but when I finish a chapter or sometimes just a scene, I will put on my Plotter hat and create my post-writing outline.

Utilizing Plantser Benefits

Using a post-writing outline helps a writer in multiple ways. Firstly, it gives you an overview of what you’ve actually written. You can track your storylines, characters, settings, as well as the tension, conflicts, and arcs. Having this outline provides the essentials details of your story for you to draw from in building your synopsis and your query letter. It allows you to hone and fine-tune your synopsis and query as your book unfolds. And it’s a great way to help keep your story moving forward in the direction of your vision, even if the how-tos, whens, whys, and whos are yet to be determined.

Watch for a future post on The Post-Writing Outline.


ABIGAIL LEIGH REED is the author of the 2019 Writer’s Digest award-winning short story, The Sozzled Flapper—A Lilia Loverly Mystery. She writes novels and short stories in the cozy mystery genre, fantasy under the pen name A. R. Leigh, and children’s stories. A native of Orange County, California, she lives in Huntington Beach with her family, including two perfectly spoiled cats. Abi is a member of the Southern California Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and is an executive board member of the Sisters in Crime, Orange County, California, chapter. Check out more on the About Me page.

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