Tip Tuesday: Have You Tried Plantsing?

An exciting new story idea has taken residence in your brain. The problem becomes: just how do you get it out?

Writers generally fall into one of two camps. There are countless Internet resources that debate the merits of alternate methods to making that scary start: plotting and pantsing (i.e., you write by the seat of your pants, and see where the story takes you).

That’s opposed to the dedicated plotters, who (as a generalization, of course), enjoy sketching out their ideas via incredibly structured outlines, color-coded spreadsheets ensuring the right scenes hit the right beats, and inspirational Pinterest boards (and maybe the occasional 16-hour-long Spotify playlist). Pantsers argue that the outlining process is too restrictive, and places bounds on their creativity.

As in most situations, neither approach is universally better than the other. It’s an individual decision.

But also like most other situations, we don’t have to make that dichotomous choice.

Friends, allow me to make the case for plantsing.

And yes, “plantsing” is just the two words smushed together, but it also has the word “plant” in it. Which is great, because plants provide us with nutrients, and it’s currently raining, which means the plants, aka the seeds of our ideas, are themselves getting nourished by all that water falling from the sky.

You still here?

It’s for the plotters who need their plan but might not know what happens at the end of the story yet. It’s for the pansters who want to keep that spontaneous feeling of discovery, but need a bit of guidance before diving on in.

My favorite way to prep for the actual drafting phase of a new story (which might be my least favorite, I know, blasphemy) is to create a loose outline. It’s flexible and open to any new ideas that might come along later, but still provides a strong framework of a couple major plot points or general character arcs, around which the story can grow.

The truth is, we’ve all plotted and pantsed at one time or another. Our writing processes can and should change depending on the needs of each story. And we don’t need to create dichotomous labels that distract us from our goal of writing.

For more on this topic, check out Lisa Cron’s post at Writer Unboxed, or Alexa Martin’s at All the Kissing.

Happy writing, and happy week!

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