5 Misconceptions About So-Called “Pantsers” (And How To Get Past Them)

Have you classified yourself, been labeled by others, or labeled someone as a “pantser”? Have you bought into the concept of that otherworldly writer who supposedly writes by the seat of her pants without direction, plot or plan?

If so, consider what value judgment you may place on the notion that the writer in question is a pantser. Do you believe the writer’s creative process needs to be fixed or changed by having that writer (or yourself) adopt the plotting techniques and writing process of a plotter?

Well, I’m going to toss out a radical notion here: a true “pantser” doesn’t exist in the author community.

What? Yes. You read that right. Before you decide I’m a complete flake and disregard my premise, please read on.

Just because an author does not plot her works linearly, in a detailed (or even semi-detailed) outline or story map, does NOT make an author a pantser. Consider the possibility that the author may be right-brained and therefore visualizes her developing story in pictures. This is a good thing if you are a right-brained writer.

In my opinion, a true pantser never becomes an “author” because she will never finish a book or finish a book cohesive enough to be a quality read. When I hear the term pantser applied to a would-be writer, I immediately envision someone who has never and will never actually finish the book. That writer has neither a plot nor a vision for her story so she writes helter-skelter.

Consider each of the following:

Misconception #1: Pantsers Do Not Plot Their Novels


Misconception #2: Writing A Novel The Pantser Way Is Harder


Misconception #3: ____________________________________


Misconception #4: Being A Pantser Is Not  As Good As Being A Plotter

Value judgments about the superiority of one writing style over another are misplaced and can be damaging to a writer’s personal and professional development. It stifles the creative flow and fosters a sense of unworthiness that often leads to an attempt to embrace writing techniques that not only don’t work but also make the struggling writer feel something is wrong with them as a person because the attempt to write the “acceptable” or “plotter” way.

This misconception leads to the fifth, and I believe the most disasterous misconceptions for scene writers:

Misconception #5: Pantsers Need To Learn To Plot Their Novels Like Plotters Do

No. No. A thousand times, no!

Embrace your visual style. In fact, cultivate it and improve upon it. Not only will your writing flourish, but so will your plot development.