Friday revisions: Pantsers vs Plotters

I’ve spoken before about revising as you write, and I leaned on the side of blindly writing a first draft, and then working through several drafts of revisions to the final version.

But after the A-Z challenge where I wrote 24 different flash pieces in 26 days, I’ve realized that the process of writing the first draft could include a bit of actual “thinking” on craft.

I’ve mostly written (literary) short stories so far, and gone on to publish some of them in various print and online collections/journals. Being able to write a completed flash piece in one day gave me the confidence to attempt completed literary short stories in under a week.

I’ve done two so far and am working on a third, one of which has been accepted for publication. (The selection was for Stories for Sendai, a worthy cause. If you don’t know about it, go take a look at the blog tour organized by the publishers!)

So, I’ve concluded, I must be doing something right.

I still go into a trance as I write a short story, but only after I’ve done a lot of research and have a bare-bones feel of where the story is headed…through what Robert Olen Butler calls Dreamstorming in his book From Where you Dream.

Am I becoming a plotty writer, from being a pantser?

Does the way a plotter and a pantser revise reveal something of what sort of writer they are?

I know I’m making a fundamental change in my writing process, and I’m a little freaked out.

I wonder if I should be.

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !


Add Yours
  1. Talei

    Congrats on your stories being published, thats awesome. I'm looking forward to reading Stories for Sendai, I met up with JC last weekend and will be doing a promo on my blog too.

    Happy plotting and pantsering? I say, do what works for you and just keep on writing! You have a great talent! 😉

  2. Damyanti

    Cinette, i think I do Koontz's method for my flash fiction, but i don't think I have craft enought to be able to do it for anything longer!. Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog!

    Madeline, I do a lot of getting into the character's head too, and it goes hand in hand with dreamstorming…after I have dreamed up what happens, however vaguely, I let the characters talk their way into the story.

    Donna, you're an amazing writer, and I'm going to listen to you on this :0). I like that I'm still a pantser!

  3. Donna Hole

    I still consider myself a pantster, even though I do quite a bit of research prior to or during the beginning stages of writing a story – short or novel. There are things that need "plotted" in order to get the story started, depending on context or setting or genre.

    Like; for one of my latest shiny ideas, I needed a good Irish name with lots history and some idea of how it had changed over the years. That plotting. Once I got the name and geneology down though, the rest is pantsing 🙂

    Letting the characters tell me the twists and turns of the plot (of course I know what the plot is before . .) itself. Character plots are the most fun to pants.

    You're still a pantster Damyanti, even when you go back and revise/edit as the story unfolds. In my view, anyway, cuz thats how I roll too.

    Hi-five girlfriend, for being flexible with your writing style and knowing when to improvise, and when to plot!


  4. Madeline Bartos

    I'm starting to turn into a plotter, too. I think you should embrace the change. 🙂 Dreamstorming sounds interesting. I guess I've done a lot of dreamstorming lately, only I've written while doing so. I close my eyes and try to get into my characters head and write whatever comes. It is a little different than dreamstorming, but it's super fun. Congrats on getting published!

  5. Cinette

    I'm still feeling out what methods work best for me. I have a hard time with following an outline, trying to force the characters into it. Then I read about Dean Koontz's method; he'll rewrite the first page up to 32 times, or until it's right, then he'll move on to page two. Though I imagine he has a basic outline in his head, he simply revises his story as he writes it.