Being a Plotter vs. Being a Pantster

WRITERI’m still not sure which one of these types I am when I write. Do I sit around and sketch out the plot of the book or story? Do I sit behind the PC and let the story flow organically from my brain? Can a person do a mix of the two and still be successful at getting stuff completed?

I started out being a pantster. Once upon a time, I only thought horror novels came from King, Koontz, and Barker. This changed and I was introduced to such great authors as Brian Keene, Wrath James White, Ray Garton, and Richard Laymon. They really captured my imagination and helped to fuel a dormant interest in writing myself. The first thing I read about was how Laymon would sit and let the story flow from him and wherever it went was where it went.

The first few years, I tried this same method. I had an idea for the beginning and the end, but I let the middle develop organically. This worked fine for the short stories and such, but I found myself getting lost in the middle when I translated it to the longer works. I tried to make it work and also would find myself being easily distracted while I meandered through a manuscript.

So, I tried to adapt.

When I sat out to make Southern Devils a novel, I wrote a full outline. For a few chapters, it was nice to have an idea where everything was headed when I wrote. But, I kept finding myself feeling constricted by the outlines I wrote. I could focus more, but I felt like I was telling the characters what to do instead of letting them have a hand in their own destiny.

What was left for me to do?

I tried to meld both methods into something I could use. Instead of an outline, I began to loosely lay out the chapters and only write a sentence or two about the chapter. I know where I wanted to go with it, but I don’t narrow myself down to certain things in the chapter. It helped my focus on the way the story flowed and the characters still had the room to grow. Not having twenty bullet points for what needed to happen in a chapter felt liberating. The story could still grow organically, but I still had a framework to help me stay on target.

Which school am I?



Writing has lots of people telling you which methods are best and how you should go about writing. The truth is you have to develop your own way. It took me three years to really get down a method that worked for me. What methods work for you? Feel free to discuss in the comment section. Sharing ideas is one way writers can help each other out.

Also as a bonus for the parents who have time to read now that the kids are back in school, I have a special going on at Amazon right now. Southern Devils and Wicked Tales for Wicked People can be picked up for the Kindle at the nice price of .99. My fun novelette, Stone Cold Horror From the Stars, is free for your enjoyment. If you read them, please take a moment to leave a review. Grab them quick, the special is only for five days!

Lastly, now I am getting into the first White Creek novel (the 20k words I did have were lost in the laptop crash), a good few thousand words into the Southern Devils sequel, and the editing is complete on The Calling. I hope to have release information and the cover reveal soon. My part of the Middletown Apocalypse sequel has been turned in also for a Halloween release like last year.

Stay cool and we’ll hang out again soon,


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