Plotter, Pantser or Planter

Plotter, Pantser or Planter?

You may have heard the term plotter and probably pantser and I’ve been mulling these writing styles over in my head and while doing so I’ve come up with a combination of the two, planter! What on earth is she talking about? All will become clear…


In terms of writing, a plotter is a person who sits down and outlines a plot of their story following a structured approach. This approach will most likely drill down to chapter headings and a rough outline of the contents of each chapter ending with a finale. 

A story outline such as this is a requirement for submissions to agents and/or publishers and it is an approach many authors follow rigidly.


The opposite to a plotter, the pantser sits down and writes, allowing their creativity to take over. There is no plan, the story develops itself on the hoof as the author writes. Authors who rebel against the traditional plotting already mentioned might swear by this approach arguing that the former inhibits their creative side. 

Some people argue that pantsing results in better stories while others say that it is damaging. Who’s right? Neither. It’s whatever works for the author or more importantly, the reader as he/she is the ultimate judge of whether it is working.


In reality many authors use a combination of the two approaches and you can see what I’ve done here – creating one word from the two. I personally use a combination and when I was playing with this word initially it was a bit of fun. 

The more I think about it though, planting is what I do as an author. I have a seed of an idea, I start to write and for me as the story develops or the plant starts to grow, I start to structure my story by outlining chapters and what I want to include in those chapters. In my planter analogy this would consist of planning the next steps for the plant e.g. adding compost, fertiliser, re-potting and deciding where the plant will end up. 

The planter analogy even lends itself to the editing process where the plant or story is trimmed back, shaped, nurtured and turned into something beautiful.

Mystery Writer

As I am in the early stages of my writing career I wouldn’t presume to be an expert in anything but for now I am a Planter(a combination of pantser and plotter). I am discovering in my own writing life that when I plot out who my murderer is likely to be (usually a choice of two characters), as I weave the story, this changes and the murderer ends up being someone completely different to my initial one. The way I see it is that if I can’t guess who the murderer is it creates more of a challenge to the reader!

These are just my thoughts written down for consideration and for your information I used the Pantsermethod of writing for this short post, it is not meant to be a treatise on the subject! I hope my musings have been entertaining if not useful….