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Among writers, there exist two methods of drafting written pieces. One is more exploratory, while the other commands higher amounts of precision. These two routes are known as discovery/pantsing and plotting. Some writers begin a manuscript as a discovery piece, only to polish it with plotting later on. That said, both sides have pros and cons. Pantsing artists are like creative magicians, whereas plotters are organized mechanics. Regardless of which method chosen, either technique leads to a successful piece with proper dedication.
Pantsing, the magician
Also known as discovery writing, pantsing authors enjoy greater freedom and flexibility. This technique is ad lib by nature, requiring little to no planning of a given piece beforehand. Pantsing is arguably fun and draws from an author’s imagination. Producing initial drafts with the pantsing method is quick and smooth at the cost of refinement and coherence. If you find yourself a discovery writer, flow with it and don’t worry too much about the precision of your prose in the initial incarnations.
Plotting, the mechanic
Plotting authors take time to outline their story and characters before they long-write it. While this is time-consuming at first, it sets the organized guideposts needed to direct the novelist along the journey. Coherence elevates, and generally stronger plot and characters result. If you’re an outliner, pay attention to the brainstorming phase. The more plotting you do initially, the more comfortable the process will be later on.
Plantsing, the middle way
Regarded as a hybrid of the two, plantsing combines elements of both free creativity and loose planning to execute a written work. While it doesn’t have the wild of discovery or clearcut order of the other two methods, it mitigates the drawbacks with a semblance of balance.
Which method is best for me?
I honestly can’t answer that for you, since any of these techniques can work well. I find that mixing and matching plotting and pantsing works well. Regardless of what you chose, adhere to it and research how other writers implement the specific strategies for each. Plotting is more mechanical and left-brain; pantsing is more for right-brained and creative work. In the end, we’re all children to the art of writing, since there are so many ways to implement this historic art.
Thanks for reading!
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