Week 1: Pantser or Planner

Writing is hard. Writing without a plan? Onerous.

I knew pantsing was a huge risk, but an illogical force (the same that makes me abandon planned lessons for new ones five minutes before class starts) reinforced my primal writing urges. The muse beckoned, and there was no resisting. With the unwritten characters and new ideas throbbing at my fingertips, planning seemed like a waste of time, but alas, unleashing the passion that is pantsing led to suffering instead of success.

(Note that the pantsing I’m referring to doesn’t happen in gym class. See here)

The writing began like a healthy bowel movement–smooth and steady. Characters were developing, the plot was thickening, and the suspense was growing. Unfortunately, the diet for a Pantser doesn’t include enough fiber; everything clogged up. The battles. The magic. The romance. After the that initial spark, nothing progressed. Being a Pantser means you have to deal with these uncomfortable blockages. Some writers learn to live with it, but for me, it’s a death sentence.

Taking a step back, I decided I needed to come up with a good plan, but how? What method should I use? Should I be thoroughly detailed in my outline, or should I leave room for the story to write itself? Google, of course, came to my rescue.

There are plenty of free resources and articles to help a struggling writer get going in the right direction. Here are a few I found helpful:

It’s a brief summation of all things to do before you begin writing regardless of the genre you choose. It’s a nice starting place, but if you really want a character driven story, this might not be the best resource.

So if you DO want characters to drive your story, check this out. I always felt the whole fill-in-the-blank process when building characters stripped them of what made characters living, breathing people. I dig her advice on setting as well, “I also make my setting… a character unto itself”.

This is a site, not just a single article; however, it is FILLED with world building advice. Building a world is not as straight forward as you might think. There are too many questions that need to be answered, and all of it cannot fit into a single article.

Please note that typing “how to write a novel” into Google is like going spelunking with no gear and only a vague sense as to which tunnel you want to explore. It’s best to have a specific goal or question in mind before you go browsing the infinite caverns of writing advice found on the web.

Some special creatures, who probably aren’t writers, might say things like, “A real writer doesn’t need advice on basic story telling. They shouldn’t need that kind of help. I’m an uppity bigot” (ok, maybe not the bigot part, but probably everything else). To those questioning why I’d research something so basic, realize that trying to hone the foundations of one’s craft should never be frowned upon. New and exciting methods are being created and shared every day. An ancient Fawcett proverb states, “Testing new waters is the only way to find the best sink” (I’ll admit it’s not the greatest pun on my name, but you catch my drift).

FYI I’ll hopefully be getting through the planning phase in two weeks. I don’t want to spend too much time slogging through the intricacies of world building.

So tell me, how do you go about writing? Pantser or planner? If writing isn’t your style, what is your favorite world an author has created? Comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

As Ace Ventura once said, “If I’m not back in five minutes… just wait longer.”

T. L. Fawcett


Author: T.L. Fawcett

Teacher, Writer, Husband and Father. Priorities are in reverse order. If you have ever had the pleasure of being around me for long, you'll note I like to waste time babbling about different pieces of nerdy nonsense, ranging from Star Wars news to the latest and greatest in fantasy fiction. While those are some of my favorite topics, writing, reading, and family are my true loves in life. Teaching just pays for the sporadic ventures into my fantasy worlds.

3 thoughts on “Week 1: Pantser or Planner”

    1. Thanks! I think it comes down to having a set schedule, strapping one’s self down to the chair, and writing even if the creativity isn’t flowing. Joshua Wolf Shenk once said, “Have the courage to write badly.” It definitely applies to my fears when I start tapping away at the keyboard and all the words look like nonsense.


      1. That is great advice to follow. Have the courage to write badly, huh? I like this that I found in an article by Robbie Blair, “Just write whatever you feel like writing. Write without the intention of publishing, getting audience approval, or coming back to proof your work.” Yes! I believe this is how I will get my mojo going.

        Liked by 1 person

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