Pantster (Panster) vs Plotter – What does that mean?

by | Jun 4, 2010 | Fiction Book Reviews | 14 comments

Okay, so I’ve read about them. Posted about them. Heard other people talk about them. And now I’m confused.

are you?

I mean, as a writer I thought a Panster was a writer who just sat down and wrote. Someone who let the story kind of guide them through their first draft and then they’d go back and revise until the heavens opened up 🙂

Versus a Plotter – who used various graphs, charts, and outlines to set up their story before they begin to write it. It doesn’t mean that the story still doesn’t bring a few suprises, but most of the time the entire idea is out on paper in outline form before the author begins to write.

Now, here’s the confusion for me.

I described a new story premise to a friend of mine, from beginning – plus a few plot twists, and then told her the ending. She said, “Oh my goodness, you’re a plotter.”


Just because I get the beginning of the story, some parts of the middle, and the ending before I write a word – does that mean I’m a plotter? I never just ‘start’ a story, but usually get full-length scenes in my head before I write. i don’t put them down on paper, unless it’s jotting down dialogue or a sentence. I’ll write full scenes out of order. Does that mean I’m a plotter?

What do you guys do? What do you think? Maybe….just maybe, I’m weird. Sherrinda, was that you laughing?


  1. Sherrinda

    You could hear me laughing?????? lololol
    You are so funny, Pepper!

    Actually, I think you are a Plantster. You are a semi-plotter with the freedom to write in and out of your basic premise.

    When I think of a Plotter, I think of someone who has an outline, does the character charts, GMC’s for every scene, etc. Not that they can’t veer from the path, but they have planned it all out.

    When I think of a Panster, I think of someone who knows their main characters and has an idea of who they are and what they want. They have a vague idea of where they want the story to go, but just begins writing and letting the story go where it will.

    Now, I may be the weird one, but I’m sure there are varying degrees in each and every kind of writer. I think you are a good mixture. 🙂

    Love the pics, btw. 🙂


      Nice Sherrinda
      I think you’ve coined a new phrase. Planster. LOL
      I’m going to start saying that about myself now.

      • Tamara K Greenhill

        In that case, I feel like I am a Planoppster. I begin with a semi-messy plan, usually work through a series of ‘oppsies’, before landing smack dap in the middle of a ‘ster’. You’re welcome.

    • FJ Thomas

      Lolol as I was reading I thought “plantter?”

  2. Kaye Dacus

    I don’t think it has to be an either-or situation. Yes, a pantster is someone who doesn’t really know much beyond their characters and the beginning and (maybe) one or two things beyond the first scene. They aren’t sure what’s going to happen when they sit down to write. A plotter is someone who pretty much knows the story from beginning to end—and have probably outlined it—before they start writing it.

    But then there’s the Panlotter . . . the Potlanner . . . the Potter . . . the Panner . . . well, the person who knows their characters and the general idea for the story—with probably a few key plot points and maybe even the climax/ending—but who may not know from day to day what’s going to happen next when she sits down to write.

    We need to come up with a name for us.


      You are so right. I think Sherrinda has a good name. Planster.
      What about that one?!?

      So you write like this too?

    • Tamara K Greenhill

      Refer to my reply above. That is my classification. Wondering if I am alone in this?

  3. cate tuten

    I am all of the above, except the outliner! I know the beginning, sorta the middle and pretty sure about the ending, BUT, and here is the amazing part, the story takes off and has a life of its own. People pop in whom I never knew existed. Events happen that I never saw coming and the details and wealth of info in regard to all of this comes pouring out. On days when this happens I think, Wow. I don’t understand it, but I am so grateful for it, and I know I must keep writing and be loyal to these folks and their story…..Blessings, Cate


    Cate and Kaye
    It is so nice to be among good company with this confusing writing sort of thing 🙂
    I’m feeling a little less weird. Just a little.

  5. Shining Aurora

    I see yourself as plotter. But not an extreme one.

  6. drakes1

    I am new to writing and I think I have to label myself a pantster. Yes I planned the beginning and had an idea of where I wanted my story to go but I am only on the fourth chapter and so much has changed already. I have also found that new characters have come out of nowhere along the way. To me the magic of writing is not in the planning but the ability to let the imagination change that plan. I’m hooked!!

    • pepperbasham

      Totally agree, Drakes1!! I love watching the story take off and take shape! I start off with a basic idea of a framework, but even as I begin writing another novel (one in which I’ve already written a synopsis), it’s already started changing. 🙂 Love that!
      LOVE this quote of yours: “magic of writing is not in the planning but the ability to let the imagination change that plan.”



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